Embrace calamity, don’t hide from it.
One of the things that has stayed with me after years of repping for a radiopharmaceutical company (besides compulsive hand washing from calling on hospitals,) is the knowledge that if you don’t have some bumps in the road in your client relationships, you will never get the opportunity to show your stuff. Otherwise, your customers can “drift.” Unless you separate yourself from your pack of competitors, they’ll never know how special you are.
You won’t get the opportunity to hunker down in the “crisis” room. An invaluable experience for any rep. I’ve had this experience many times over in my career.
One of the things that worked for me is, I always had my company story ready for anyone that would listen. I would engage my customers with the in-house efforts put forth to put product in their hands. They were amazed and a lot more forgiving during a service failure.
This is not to say you wish something challenging to happen but only to realize these bumps for the opportunities they are when they happen. And they will happen.
In my particular field, we could be dealing with a radioactive tracer that had a half life and time was usually a huge factor. It could have been mis-routed, lost at the airport, or bound up in the system due to weather. My customers, for the most part, would reside in the southwest. Snow wasn’t their problem, it was mine.
This is where you find a phone booth and do your best Clark Kent. If the two of you (you and your client) survive this with a positive outcome, they will never forget your efforts. Even if things don’t work out for the best, your clients will recognize your deep empathy for their business. I can’t emphasize this enough. In my experience, I’ve found, tough times have a way of bringing you closer. Regardless of outcome.
These experiences should do nothing but bring you closer if approached as the opportunities they truly are. Nothing will develop your creative muscle like a service failure from hell.
As I am always fond of saying, there are no medals for valor during peace time. Forget thinking outside the box because in reality, there is no box.
Remember: Attitude + Aptitude = Altitude.