I love a good hockey game, and my favorite team is the St. Louis Blues. I recently went to a game where a puck fluttered over the protective glass and hit a fan squarely in the head just a few rows in front of me. The blood started to flow and within seconds an usher was beside the gentleman who, other than the gash on his head, seemed to be okay. What happened next was a system or process that had been honed to perfection.
The usher looked up at the JumboTron scoreboard, where there are numerous security cameras that scan the fans in the stands, and she crossed her arms above her head, giving the signal that there was an emergency in her section. In under a minute, a crew of medics and security people were beside the fan, helping to get the situation under control. Fortunately, the fan was okay and they took him off to get that nasty gash taken care of.
The very next day I spoke at Peabody Opera House, which is the theater connected to the arena where the Blues played the night before. Five of the audience members were employees from the St. Louis Blues hockey organization. During the presentation, I asked if anyone would share an example of turning a Moment of Misery™ into a Moment of Magic®; in other words, turning a complaint or problem into a positive experience. One of the employees from the Blues raised her hand and shared the story of what I had witnessed the night before.
What she added to the story is that they took the fan out to an ambulance where he was attended to, and the Blues got him an autographed puck, an autographed hockey stick, and tickets to a future game. As they closed the door to the ambulance, the fan said, “This is the best hockey game I’ve ever been to.”
This story is a perfect example of a system that works: a process that deals with a problem, complaint, or even an emergency. The first time something happens, people may not be sure of what to do – their instincts take over and hopefully all turns out well. That’s what might happen the first time, but it shouldn’t happen a second time.
While it’s nice to predict problems and how to deal with them before they ever happen, that’s not realistic. Sometimes things happen that you don’t anticipate. Yet, that first incident should be a lesson that results in a process that is used the next time. While not really a complaint, what happened at the Blues hockey game was a Moment of Misery, and the Blues logistics system did all it could to take care of him physically. Then they followed it up by showing the fan some “love” and gave him souvenirs. They showed they cared.
What could have been a devastating end to a fan’s night out became a painfully memorable event where he walked away with even more love for his home team. Although your problems may not include a minor injury at a sporting event, it goes to show that every crisis is an opportunity. And while there is no guarantee of a happy outcome, having an effective process in place can transform a minor mishap into a major win.