I have been an educator for 20 years, and it is a very service oriented occupation. As a teacher, I served the students and their parents. As an Educational Technology Specialist, I serve teacher, administrators, and support staff. We have a great opportunity to make a difference in peoples' lives. And at this time of year, with field trips, end of level testing, dress code violation, senioritis, and the list goes on, how do we handle those tense situations with parent, teachers, and students? I think a lesson from Disney can help. A friend of mine, that used to work for Disney, shared the acronym below, along the explanation. I think it is good advice and I am striving to implement it into my interactions at this stressful time of year.
L.A.S.T. = Listen, Apologize, Solve and Thank
Listen – Let the customer share what happened. Let them vent if need be. Let them get it out. Don't rush to answer. Maintain good eye contact and open body language. Ask open-ended questions. Capture the critical details. Consider how the guest's emotions are influencing their words. Make certain that the customer feels completely heard before you start offering solutions.
Apologize – Express sincere disappointment for the situation not meeting their expectations (no excuses, no blame) and that you are committed to making it right.
Solve – Find the right solution and provide it immediately. This is where the grid makes the most sense. If it's a case of offering Empathy, do so. If the matter needs to be fixed—Fix It! Most importantly, roll the Red Carpet out if you're at all to blame, or be a Hero when you aren't.
Thank – Often, the best gifts we receive from customers are the complaints they register. Feedback is the breakfast of service champions. While it isn't our nature to appreciate negative comments, those complaints can act as a road map to tell us if we're on track to providing the quality of service we want to offer. Being genuine and authentic is critical.
The Grid of Service Recovery
You can be the hero for your teachers, parents and students by rolling out the red carpet, make them feel special and that your focus is on them. You have been in the classroom, empathize with them, help them discover the answer, and the tension will be gone, the pressure will release, and whatever caused it will be much easy to fix and the right solution found. Be a change agent for your school!