Enhancing customer service team skills: by means of Option Solving!

Not so long ago, I was working with a key member of a client’s fairly new commercial team. As part of being cost effective, during these more challenging business times, she was having to share support from the company’s customer service team with it’s government teams. At the same time, she articulated the differences between government and commercial customers, where there’s an expectation of much greater responsiveness from commercial customers. This presented her with a dilemma, since, as a relatively new person to the scene, she could not impose her will on a well established team and its protocol. How could she best handle some clear education needs?

With her prior knowledge of option solving, we immediately set about creating a suitable question. This ended up being: ““What is our optimal approach toward gearing our Customer Service Teams to handle commercial customers, too, considering that these teams are not directly led by us, they are used to handling government customers (a different breed), and they might feel ‘put-upon’?” You can see her key considerations, which ultimately shaped her intuitive reaction to her dilemma.

Once she had resolved this question, she created two Ying and the Yang “bookends.” These are two extreme options which would ultimately frame her most plausible options, as well as stimulate her intuition to be as creative as possible. Her two were: “Just leave things as they are,” and at the other end, “Put together a full-blooded Commercial Customer Service training module.” In our Latest Example we show why these were the least workable.

At this point, she was ready to figure out at least five credible options. By finding at least five, she reached her limits of reasonable options. One of her five was: “Develop training framework: then pursue on an ad-hoc basis”…option A. See her other four options in our Latest Example.

We then spent twenty minutes discussing some other issues, as a way of involving emotional distancing, while her option solving picture was turned over. When we turned it face up, she briefly reviewed it and made her choice. We then discussed her next steps while the whole issue was uppermost in her mind.

Please refer to the Latest Example to view the overall picture of a potential solution. If you have an example of your own, please share it with this blogger, through the COMMENTS area.
Thanks Option Solving. (NOTE: Next posting in 2 weeks: “Using Option Solving to decide on ‘Handling the marketing role myself?’” You’re your COMMENTS or go to peter @ileadershipsolutions.com to connect with the blogger.)

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Best way forward on innovating a new business venture: by means of Option Solving!

I found myself in a client’s office recently, where he had already established and activated an innovation team to explore additional key activities. His trouble was: although the CEO had called for the initiative, he was now tending to pull back and was also not convinced about the areas the team was exploring because they impinged on current business areas. My client was debating what to do next. My retort was option solving. Fortunately he was already familiar with the technique.

We plunged right into creating the appropriate question, which came out as: “What is my best option ‘now’ for innovating a new business venture, considering that it is a challenge to get my boss’s endorsement, it’s tough to get time from other innovation team members, I have other key priorities drawing on my time, and we will be stretched to find people to ‘build’ anything?” You can begin to realize his conundrum, although it already helped him to lay out the question and issues. These were what he considered were the most important of eight considerations, so he chose the top 50% to make the question less complex…see our latest example.

With these in place, we worked up two ‘bookends’, the Ying and the Yang possibilities, which were deliberately extreme options so as to give maximum spark to our later option selection. The two we developed were: “Walk away from the project,” and at the other end, “Boss turns over the reins to me.” Our Latest Example shows why these were the least workable.

Now we were ready to search for more plausible options and we worked hard to come up with at least five; knowing that by stretching at least to five, we would have fairly tested the limits of viable options. One of the five we developed was: “Spend more time clarifying new business parameters with my boss”… see Latest Example for our other choices.

We then spent fifteen minutes discussing some other issues, as a form of emotional distancing, and I left it to my client to make up his mind on the most appropriate option by the following morning. At least he felt much more relieved when I left because he had unearthed all the realistic possibilities. I heard his choice at a later time, but we will leave that with him as he acts upon it.

Please refer to the Latest Example to view the overall picture of a potential solution. If you have an example of your own, please share it with this blogger, through the COMMENTS area.
Thanks Option Solving. (NOTE: Next posting in 2 weeks: “Using Option Solving to decide on ‘Enhancing customer service team skills?’” You’re your COMMENTS or go to peter @ileadershipsolutions.com to connect with the blogger.)

Holding on to a promising business relationship: by means of Option Solving!

After a great deal of patient effort, I finally met with the principal of a national organization that could help move my business in a bold new direction. The initial meeting went much better than expected and my objective seemed within my grasp over the next year or so. However, the long delayed meeting occurred shortly before the yearend holidays and, there’s this long held view of mine, that promises made before the holidays often shift due to New Year perspectives. That’s what happened in this case. By early February I was informed that my promising contact would have to break away from our intentions because something else of more immediate importance needed her attention. So, I was faced with the dilemma of how to salvage the situation.

Not to be deterred, I immediately started work on the appropriate option solving question and came up with: “What is my best alternative to combat closure of an initial business relationship, considering the person already feels pressure to pursue a new path, she’s not so disposed to listen,…?” You can see my other two considerations in our Latest Example. The considerations are an important defining point that our intuitive minds can use in finding the best solution. I came up with seven considerations, so picked the roughly 50% most important ones.

My mind was now gearing up to the challenge with great anticipation, but first I needed to create two ‘bookends’, the Ying and the Yang possibilities, which by their very nature would be extreme, unlikely options. These would help stimulate my intuitive mind to be as creative as possible when it came to more plausible options. So the two I came up with were: “Let her proceed down her new path,” and at the other end, “Throw my firm at her disposal.” Again, see our Latest Example. We also show why these were the least workable.

By using my rational mind to keep posing my original question to my intuitive mind, I was making the most of the combination of mind-gifts at my disposal. I stretched my thinking to arrive at five different options, one of which was: “Remind of initial idea+ Offer to use in her new priority situation ”… see Latest Example for the other four possibilities.

Then I decided to sleep on these five options, as a form of emotional distancing, before making a decision first thing the following morning. That choice was already waiting for me when I woke up, so I didn’t have my dilemma any longer as well felt comfortable about my decision…had explored all the other reasonable options and had given them due reflection. I then turned this decision into action, while I was still fully connected with the issue.

Please refer to the Latest Example to view the overall picture of a potential solution. If you have an example of your own, please share it with this blogger, through the COMMENTS area.
Thanks Option Solving. (NOTE: Next posting in 2 weeks: “Using Option Solving to decide on ‘Best way forward on innovating a new business venture?’” You’re your COMMENTS or go to peter @ileadershipsolutions.com to connect with the blogger.)