How to Turn Business Chaos into an Opportunity

September 23rd, 2015

42082142_sFor those change management specialists out there, I’m sure you understand this section of the change curve well, but let’s look at it from a customer’s perspective.

If we start from the premise that customers dislike inconsistency, inconvenience and incompetence then we must also understand that customers won’t like chaos or confusion.

We don’t.

So why should they? Much has been written about customer service and retention. It’s hard work getting it right so when you add chaos and confusion into the mix you’re going to be pushing customer reactions to the limit.

Over the summer in Kent, we’ve all been struggling with Operation Stack. Just closing part of the motorway to park lorries waiting to get across the Channel has been incredibly disruptive – people trying to get to work – well, get anywhere at all, local deliveries of goods delayed or getting to appointments on time has tested everyone’s patience.

Whilst we all complained, there was nothing many of us could do to change the situation, but some did, or at least make the most of a bad situation.

My dentist had been impacted a lot – I’m sure people who don’t like the dentist used it as an excuse to cancel their appointment. Certainly few new bookings were made.

I had a 3.45pm appointment and whilst thinking whether or not I could get there on time, my dentist called me. He told me that Operation Stack was on and likely to be that way all day. He knew that his entire appointment schedule would be disrupted but he also needed to make sure that as many people attended as possible otherwise his income would be badly affected. He lived nearby so he’d be able to get to work and had no intentions of going anywhere. He suggested that I still came along to my appointment and not to get stressed if the traffic delayed me.

He explained that as everyone was affected he’d get to see everyone who did manage to arrive if we didn’t mind being a little flexible too. If not then he’d re-book my appointment. I told him I’d be there as close to my appointed time as possible. No worry, he said just get here in one piece and perhaps bring a book in case everyone arrives together!

I arrived at 3.55pm and just as I went in to see him another patient arrived – she was 45 minutes late. I heard the receptionist offer her a cup of tea whilst she got her breathe back.

How many customers did the dentist lose that day? It was 2 and they both re-booked when the dentist called them. Strangely most were seen within 10 minutes of arriving.

I joked that a drop-in service might be a good idea – no it wouldn’t was the answer! Everyone would forget to drop in until they had major toothache.

Whilst these days could have been total chaos for customers (patients) and a poor income day for the dentist; with a little forward planning, business for the day was done. Customers’ expectations were shifted and managed and all in all it was the best that it could be.


Shirley Mansfield is a highly experienced business coach and Master Problem Solver. With over 25 years’ experience, she founded CoachSME in 2011 to work with business owners to maximise growth, and she is still trying to reduce the 14 handicap! Keep up to date by following me on Twitter @coachsme