Kids get lost at Disney, it’s an unavoidable problem. These losses are not permanent and kids are typically reunited with their parents very quickly. This fact, however, means little to a panicking parent who has just realized their little one has disappeared into the crowds. Disney knows this problem will happen, but they don’t live in fear of when the problem will strike next. Instead Disney has carefully crafted a recovery process. Staff members are trained in how to help and console children. Disney has a center for the lost children designed to evoke feelings of familiarity and comfort, and sometimes the lost child is even invited to lead one of Disney’s parades to celebrate. This intentional recovery process turns every lost child into an opportunity for Disney to forge an emotional bond with both parent and child.

Every industry has their unavoidable problems. The unavoidable problem is the one that no matter how much you tweak your processes, train your people, or implement the latest and greatest technology it will still happen. You may be able to reduce the frequency of the unavoidable problem, but it can never be completely eliminated. Consider it the curse of your particular industry. It could be food errors (whether the fault of customer, server, or kitchen), an overwhelmingly busy tax season, or delays caused by weather. These problems are part of the cost of doing business in your industry and everyone knows that they will arise. You may not know when they will arise, but you know they are coming.

What if other industries took the Disney approach to turning their unavoidable problem into an opportunity to earn the love and trust of their customers?

  • What if servers were given a list of easy-to-make food options they could present to guests in the event of an order being incorrectly prepared and returned to the kitchen? Instead of a table of guests waiting anxiously for the fixed food to arrive, the inconvenienced guest now has a small extra to enjoy while their companions begin their own meals
  • What if before the dreaded tax season accountants sent their clients a small gift box with a note assuring them that they were committed to making this time as low stress as possible? Instead of the client worrying alone about the upcoming season, they would rest easy knowing their accounting firm is a partner who shares their concerns and has a plan of action
  • What if airlines developed a system that would automatically notify a traveler of alternative travel times should they miss a connecting flight due to a delay? Instead of waiting in long lines to make the change, the airline does the legwork and the traveler can adjust their plans without adding to line length and stress levels

Every organization should begin with identifying and correcting the root causes of customer problems. However, if a problem is truly unavoidable then the conversation should include how to design an exceptional recovery. Do you know what the unavoidable problems are in your company? How could you turn the recovery process into a memorable, loyalty building experience?