It’s always interesting to me when small problems start to arise in my business. Now, I’m talking small problems like a misplaced phone message regarding a new potential client, or a messed up website script that isn’t functioning like it should. While neither of these is life or business threatening, both experiences offer an opportunity to further refine your business processes and figure out is working well, and what needs to be tweaked.
It’s crucial to pay close attention when small problems show up in your business. Remember, it takes three data points to make a trend, which means when a small problem shows up three times, it’s already on its way to becoming a large problem. What I like to do is focus in when I have had two small problems show up within three days or less. So, for example, in the past two days, I have received emails about people paying for one of my products through paypal and not receiving the download link. (I offer paypal as a secondary payment option for those who wish to use it.)
The first time, I just had my support person send them an alternate link to the product. Yet, when I got a second, similar complaint, I knew that this was probably the beginnings of problem. So, the first thing I did was to have the suspect links removed from the sales page, which gave me and my team a bit of room to figure out what was happening. (At least we wouldn’t be receiving irate messages from people who placed orders and didn’t receive their product right away!)
Then I remembered that I had made some changes to the one website and that it probably messed up one of the website scripts I was using on that site. That would explain at least some of the problem. So I investigated it a bit, and got some help to get it fixed. While not quite there, yet, it enabled me to catch a small problem before it grew larger.
Once identifying the problem, I didn’t stop there. I also set up a second message to those who ordered the products, sending out the download link directly. These expire after a few hours or one successful download, so they won’t work if the links were passed around. I know you have to be careful of people sharing your download links, but it’s more important to me that I get the customer his or her product as quickly as possible. Anyway, what I did was put in a second line of response in case the download links stopped working again.
The idea is that you need to tackle small problems with bigger solutions. So don’t just fix what went wrong, take an extra step (or two) to reduce the chances that the problem will happen again. This is extremely important in situations which involve money and products. People do become antsy when ‘immediately downloadable’ does not function as advertised.
This concept of over-responding to small problems is one that has served me well, and will also work well for you. When you can solve problems and reduce the chances of them happening again, you are further along the path of making your business and customer service run that much more smoothly.
If you have a small problem in your business, put in two solutions for it today. Don’t just fix what went wrong. Reduce the chances that it will happen again.