Sometimes the issues that we deal with don’t have an immediate resolution. There’s unknown information and conflicting stories. Many individuals are involved, or possibly whoever is involved is not available. You have to investigate.
For situations where you have to be clear on what occurred, make sure you’re gathering all the pertinent information. Here’s a quick acronym to help guide your research into the issue – Get the FACTS:
- Financial Information – The emotions from the customers can often relate to their bottom line; what is coming out of their pocket or already has been taken out? Likewise, the company often uses financial criteria when deciding how to deal with situations. Make sure you clearly understand what’s going on from a financial angle in the situation.
- Actions Taken or Untaken – Determine what has been done, or potentially what should have been done but didn’t occur. Knowing what work has been accomplished or what forms were completed helps to understand the situation better.
- Content of Communications – Understand what the customer communicated to the company, and likewise what employees in the company communicated back. This goes to completeness of information, clarity of communications – and it affects expectations from both parties.
- Tone of Communications – When emotions are involved, it’s not just because it’s dealing with people’s pocketbooks or because of the particulars of the situation, it’s also because of HOW things are communicated. Try to uncover whether and how tone played a part in this situation.
- Sequencing – Finally, if things don’t make sense when you’re digging for facts, it may be because there’s not clarity about what happened first, then second, then third. Knowing the timing of the process that has led you to this point will let you know where miscommunications or miscues occurred, where feelings were hurt, and where expectations were set and not met.
When you have to investigate an issue, first uncover the FACTS.