Although we generally avoid failure in our efforts, not all failures are necessarily bad. Some failures are quite useful and provide a path for positive growth and customer experience development.
As service leaders, we need to create environments where failure is an option for our people.
The startup culture mantra “fail fast, fail often” opens opportunities for growth and learning and gives us the life lessons needed to learn what success looks like and what negative failure actions to avoid in the future.
However, not all failure enables positive growth. As we come to terms with our failures and short comings, failed experiences that result from lack of effort, dishonest, or intentional deviation from the prescribed best practice must be abhorred and abolished from the organizational culture. We should never admonish worthy efforts of service agents, but must always correct failure to act on the part of the service provider.
The Right Type of Failure
Failure that leads to success comes from experiences that teach us what didn’t work in a specific situation. Useful failures should always lead to learning what doesn’t work and that knowledge must become institutional knowledge to all those involved in service work.
Success teaches you what to repeat; failure what to change.
The sooner you come to terms with what doesn’t work, the sooner you can move past those barriers to exceptional service and change your plan of action to include what actually works in creating your desired service experience.
The Benefits of Failed Service
When we fail, we enable learning to take place. We learn how to be vulnerable as we see leaders compel service agents to learn, rather than punish for mistakes that have been made. In our most vulnerable moments we stands to develop the most amount of trust with our peers. Failure presents the opportunity to practice honesty as we take own our actions. Failing also fosters an environment of responsibility, as we understand our critical role in the future success of customer engagements.
Ask “what failed” not “who failed.” Asking “what failed” is about learning from experiences. Asking “who failed” is simply placing blame.
How Failure Leads to Positive Experiences
As leaders, we can and must use failure as an opportunity to inspire other through transparently addressing past failures and pointing out how they’ve been overcome. Failures addresses with a willing heart and open mind lead to insight on best practices and frameworks needed in order for successful future interactions. Failing also encouraging individuals to invest in their own self-development by focusing on skill gaps and correcting wrong assumptions.
One who fears failure limits his activities. Failure is only the opportunity to more intelligently begin again.
– Henry Ford
The sooner we learn to be transparent with our failures, the sooner we will be able to achieve the successful outcomes that our customers expect. No one begins the journey of service experience comprehending every nuance of how service experiences should take place.
Exceptional experience only comes through extensive trial and error, and will continue to require constant re-evaluation as the needs and wants of customer evolve through the lifecycle of your product or service. The longer you hide from failure, the longer it’ll be before you can achieve the service experience success you desire most.