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3 Ways to Make Clean Handoffs in Your Business and Prevent Fumbles with Your Customers

avoid fumbles in your business

You care about your customers, right?  Better make sure you make good handoffs.

They say that football is a game of turnovers. The team that prevents making big mistakes or forces the other team to give up the ball is likely to win the game.

One of the seemingly simplest things to do in football is to make a handoff. However, as simple as it looks, it can still be fraught with danger.

Whose fault is it when a fumble happens during a handoff?

Both players have a part to play in making the handoff successful. It doesn’t guarantee that the team will pick up yards on the play, but the running back can’t take the ball to the endzone unless it makes it safely into his hands.

Handoffs in Business – The Restaurant

You walk into a restaurant that’s two-thirds full. It takes a few minutes for the hostess to return to her stand and greet you, but she smiles and takes you to a table. Unfortunately, you spend the next 5-10 minutes waiting with no further contact with any of the staff, unsure of which server might be yours, and feeling largely ignored.

You’ve been in similar situations before, and you have a threshold as to when you’ll make a bigger effort to get noticed. As a customer, you know you deserve better treatment. No one likes to feel ignored, and even though you know it’s not intentional, it can be disappointing and upsetting. Somehow the system in the restaurant broke down. A handoff from hostess to server was dropped.

Whose fault was it?

Once again, it takes two people to make the handoff work. If they are functioning properly, it looks effortless, but you got stuck at your table with the proverbial “ball” on the turf.

Handoffs Can Happen in Any Business

Now, think about your business.

Could a similar fumble happen with one of your customers?

Here are three things to consider as you think about the handoffs in your business:

  1. Map Out Your Customer’s Path
    • Not every single customer will go through the exact same set of steps, but certainly the 80-20 Rule applies.  You can map out the major points of contact with your company and look for the handoff points from one of your Team members to another.
    • Make sure your Team members know the intended handoff points for customers and aware of the danger in leaving a customer in limbo.  Those points are a critical part of the intended customer path.
  2. Plan for Intentional, Positive Handoffs
    • Your Team members need to know and appreciate when they are part of a handoff.  Making sure that there is positive control of the situation is important so there are no fumbles. Direct handoffs are best where both Team members are together (either physically or in a joint email or group text). The first Team member initiates the handoff and the second Team member acknowledges receipt with positive communication with the customer.
    • Accommodate for delays either just before or just after the handoff. In the restaurant example, knowing that the server will be along shortly, the hostess can start a drink order. You can do the same thing, for example, getting customer information while waiting so that when the handoff is made, the additional information can be passed along easily. You can keep the customer engaged so they don’t feel ignored, even if a delay is needed. You just need to maintain positive control, knowing what Team member is “on” throughout the process.
  3. Provide a Fail-Safe Contact
    • At any point in the process, something can go wrong. Providing an additional avenue for the customer, in the unlikely event that a fumble happens, to contact someone that will always respond in a timely manner is essential. Even just having the ability to reach out is very helpful for the customer and reminds your entire Team how important it is to make a positive handoff.

Final Thoughts

No football team wants to fumble a handoff.

No restaurant wants to have customers feeling ignored.

And you don’t want your customers to experience any kind of fumble as they interact with your Team.

If you employ just those three ideas with your Team, you’ll make clean handoffs with your customers. They will know without a doubt how much you care about them because they’ll stay comfortably in good hands, just like a running back on his way to the endzone.