Late last week, I received a voice mail from one of our Cranky Concierge partners. She’s a travel agent who sends a lot of her clients to us for help with air travel, but she didn’t sound happy. Apparently she’d had a couple issues over the holidays with our service, and she wanted to talk about it. I felt anxious, but I knew there were two ways I could approach this.

Naturally I feared the worst. Had she had such a bad experience that she would stop working with us entirely? I hate to lose any client, but we really enjoy working with her. When I finally talked to her, she explained the situation. One of her clients was unhappy with the way we handled change fees for requests after hours. Another didn’t feel like we had helped him enough when he was going to be late and possibly miss his flight.

When I received the feedback, I had to decide how to handle it. I’ve agonized over our business hours here many times, and it would have been easy for me to say, “Well, we make it clear what the rules are, so it’s not our fault.” With the other client, he was late arriving at the airport, so there wasn’t much more we could do.

I think my sense of pride in the business initially made me want to apologize for the bad experience but not really change anything. After all, neither of these things was our fault. But I quickly erased that thought. Even though we weren’t at fault, it doesn’t mean we couldn’t take anything away from it.

After talking with our partner some more, I came to realize there was indeed some opportunity to improve. When we assign a concierge, we send an email giving details about who it is and how to contact them. But it never dawned on me that some of the travelers may not really know what our service includes when they receive that email. After all, their travel agent or tour operator may provide this for them without them really knowing it. I’ve worked on revising the introduction email to better explain what we do.

In addition, I came across an issue with how some of our clients’ voluntary changes are handled.  The concierge doesn’t have access to the reservation system we use, so if a client requests a change, then the concierge usually hands that off to us in the office. That makes sense on one hand because it lets the traveler talk to the person who actually will make the change, but not everyone sees it that way. A lot of people just want their concierge to be the single point of contact who can handle it for them. We can make that happen.

After the conversation, I felt pretty good. What I thought might have been ugly turned into a really productive session that’s going to help us improve what we do. I’m glad I kept my mind open to so I could take advantage of the opportunity.

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