Conflict Resolution

April 30 2009 by Chris McGinnis
Comments (5)

ConflictResolution.jpgA perfectly planned business trip is sort of like a finely tuned watch. There are a lot of moving parts, but if one tiny pin or wheel stops working, the watch stops.

The same goes for a business trip. An unplanned traffic jam, a thunderstorm over the airport, a missed wake up call, and yes, even an outbreak of the swine flu can stop your trip in its tracks.

Sometimes travel glitches are no one's fault. That's when you've got to roll with the punches and make the best of a bad situation like everyone else. But at other times, it makes sense to write a letter and seek to resolve the issue when it's clear that someone has goofed up.

Do you think you've got a good case? Don't keep those feelings bottled up or start a negative word-of-mouth campaign. Write a letter and give the supplier the opportunity to make good. Here's some advice on writing that first email or letter:

  • Be concise and professional. While you may be upset, it's best to extract any emotion from your complaint letter. Write your emotion-packed "I'll-never-use-you-again" letter first, and then put it in a drawer. Then revisit and re-write it a few days later.
  • Don't rant. State your case, propose a solution and suggest fair compensation. Be reasonable.
  • Make it short and sweet. If you cannot get around the need to make your note longer than two or three paragraphs, provide an "executive summary" at the top with the gist of your complaint and your proposed solution or compensation. Then show the details below--but never ever more than a single page.
  • Let them know who you are. If you're a frequent business traveler and can prove it with a loyalty program number, be sure to include that.
  • Don't threaten to copy the media or post your complaint to social media/travel message board Web sites in your first correspondence. Save that for later.

Play nice at first and see what happens. You might be surprised to find the supplier to be as eager to resolve the issue as you are.

Categories : Road Warriors

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    By Jon on May 5, 2009 4:20 PM

    You're right about making the contact polite and reasonable. On a recent international flight, the inflight entertainment system in my armrest wasn't working properly and constantly had to reboot. This also had an effect on the reading light. I wrote a note to customer service and got a transportation credit for $50 - fair I thought for the inconvenience. While there were empty seats on the plane, they were middle seats and surrounded by kids - not what I want to give up after having plenty of legroom in an exit row.

    By Robert Berry on May 5, 2009 7:18 PM

    This is excellent guidance! We have all had days when things just don't go as we would want them to. If it happens to you, use the advice above and let them know. I have received free hotel rooms for following (more or less) the points made above.

    By Alan Hay on May 12, 2009 9:06 PM

    I agree exactly. I travel extensively, flying mainly with AA. If I have a problem, I let them know and they typically will add miles to my account along with an apology. As said here, you need to be precise, add details of your status, thank them for other times when things went well etc. It usually pays. On the other hand, I also send messages thanking them when things go really well also! This appears to be kept in a file also.

    By Kristin Sabel on May 13, 2009 12:20 PM

    Wonderful advice! As a business traveler averaging 266 days a year at least once a week something happens that needs correcting to be more efficient in my travels. I have always taken the approach that if I were the GM I would want to know about issues so the company could run more efficiently. I agree with all of the posts. Iím sure we could spend hours over coffee on this issue. I agree your inconveniences most often will yield some sort of gift card, points, and miles. The point here is your not looking for this. We are just being good human beings, trying to be helpful.

    Knowing employees by name in well-visited Hotels, Restaurants, Car rental agencies, stewards, always makes for happy travels. The old adage. do unto others, as you would want them to do unto you.

    By Cassara on June 23, 2011 5:34 AM

    This info is the cat’s paaajms!

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