Recently, we witnessed a customer service representative trying to resolve an issue for a customer by only using the written rules and policies on hand. It was apparent that what the customer was asking for in resolution was not on that written document; and, not unreasonable in their request. Yet, the service representative could not reach beyond those policies to suggest another solution or request help from a peer or manager. That service rep was not a ‘solutioneer’. Haven’t we all been in that place at some time? The place where we can’t see across the chasm of the blueprints of what has always been and see what could be.

What are the components then of a conversation to transform reality into something both the service rep could be proud of; and ultimately, the customer could live with? Essentially, conversations that enable innovation and creativity are based on possibilities or ‘what if’s?’ Possibilities transform into reality with phrases such as, “Can I offer, Can I include, Can I request other resources, What about, Is there a better time, Would another product/service be more appropriate; or even, If I change this, will that be an improvement?”.

Innovation and creativity are not characteristics of a select group of enlightened individuals. Instead the aspects of exploration, speculation, or ingenuity are available to all of us at any given movement. Also, the emotional environment in which this conversation takes place has a tremendous bearing on the individual to initiate the innovative dialogue. In many service organizations, the pressure to resolve an issue in a minimal amount of time adds significant stress to the representative assigned to the problem. Consequently, ingenuity and creativity plummet in adherence to the policies and rules of those organizations.

If you think you’re not being a ‘solutioneer’, ask yourself:

• What am I really hearing from my customer, my colleague, my family members, complaints, real requests, or just whining?
• What did I do in a similar situation from the past that worked well?
• What other resources do I need to really address this problem, and can I enlist them without the risk of truly violating company policies?