For me, I believe that we can learn in every environment we find ourselves. Learning is everywhere around us, we just need to take time to take it all in. I would like to describe a recent learning experience I encountered.
As I was sitting in Starbucks the other day reading a book, I couldn’t help but listen to some Starbuck’s training that was happening at the next table. I’ve always been a people-person and love to people-watch. People fascinate me! So, I found watching this training to be very interesting. First they started with different types of coffee. The trainer was showing the trainee how to taste the coffee and, as they were doing so, she would explain the differences in the taste. She went on to say not to bother trying to “fool” a customer if they were out of a particular brew because the customer would be sure to tell the difference. I don’t doubt that. Coffee people are a very skilled bunch!
After all the taste-testing was complete, the trainer went on to talk about dealing with difficult customers. Like in any business or place of work, we all have challenges we must learn to deal with effectively. A coffee shop is not immune. In fact, I think we can all learn something from the advice and the Starbuck’s way of dealing with difficult customers (one could say people, in general).
Starbucks calls their way of dealing with challenging customers the LATTE way. Clever, right? Well… anyways…. It’s actually pretty good… As I listened, I typed their steps into my phone:
L – Listen – it’s imperative to listen to what the person wants to say. Listen. Just listen. Don’t talk. Don’t interrupt. Just listen.
A – Apologize for the experience (you are not apologizing for something you have done, in particular, but you are apologizing for the difficulties the customer is having) and Ask questions to understand. Never make excuses or blame anyone. Just Listen, apologize, and ask questions to deepen your understanding.
T – Take Action – Do what you need to do to remedy the situation. You may not be able to act right away, but let them know what your plan is and then take action on that plan.
T – Thank them – Thank the individual for coming in and expressing their struggles.
E – Ensure satisfaction – Let the customer (or person) know what you are going to do and ensure that they will be satisfied so that they will want to come back again.
These sound like pretty straightforward steps for dealing with challenging situations and dealing with people who may present themselves in our work.
If we all followed these steps, I wonder how many fewer challenges we would face? I wonder how many people would actually feel heard? I wonder if these simple strategies could actually be used in our schools – with our students, with our teachers, and with our parents. If so, I wonder how successful we would be in solving the challenging situations that arise?
What strategies do you have when dealing with challenging situations? Do you have specific steps you follow?