Don’t close the book on a conflict when a customer leaves. Calhoun believes the most important step in managing conflicts in your business is what you do immediately afterward.
Taking time to evaluate your team’s performance during a conflict can improve your responses in future conflicts.
“That component is absolutely critical and yet it’s so hard to do,” says Calhoun. “When a customer leaves there’s a natural feeling to say ‘Whew, glad that’s over,’ but it is absolutely imperative if you are looking for improvement that you look at why things went south.
“You have to ask, ‘Was [the conflict] actually resolved, or is it just over?’ There is a difference.”
“If you don’t know where you’re making mistakes you’re go- ing to make them again,” adds Williams, who notes employees should be encouraged to actively participate in these discussions.
They are on the front lines and have the most experience operating your conflict resolution strategy. Allowing them to make changes when necessary will empower them when the next conflict comes along, he says.
Any changes made to your resolution strategy should be communicated to other staff members as well if they occur. “You have to give your people the tools to be successful,” Williams says.
Follow up discussions also allow you to reduce the risk of related conflicts moving forward, says Voyles. Addressing a problem your team made can get them back on the right track before one mistake leads to a trend.
“Nobody in the service provider business is perfect. Nobody gets it right every time,” he says. “You’re going to have some sort of conflict almost every day. But if are willing to learn from those conflicts you can build a stronger business.”