March 24, 2013

Appreciation Marketing – Mistakes Continued

Since last week several people contacted me regarding the mistakes owners make which will spell doom for businesses. This can be a small setback or a life changing event that can cause irreparable harm. How businesses deal with their mistakes sparked strong feedback.

Whether you make an error in the order process, in delivery, or in the product or service, you must deal with the error in a professional manner. You must take ownership of the error, apologizing professionally and honestly, and then take steps to correct the error. You must accept that the mistake was made and that your business was responsible.

If you have employees involved, do not blame the error on them to the client. Deal with the employee’s mistake, if that is the case, separately between the two of you without the client involved. How you speak with, train, correct, punish, or manage an employee should not be done in front of a client. The client should not be told of any specific dealings with an employee. To do so is a violation of the mutual trust between employees and employers. Even if you terminate the employee, that is your decision as to the why and how.

After taking ownership of the error, you must take steps, if possible, to put the relationship with the client back to where it should be as if there was no error. If you cannot do this, you must do what you can to be as close as you can be. Sometimes we just cannot correct the timeliness of an error so that your client is where they should have been. Do what you humanly can, apologize again, and perhaps do more than expected. A missed deadline may not be able to be met if it is past, but could you do something to mitigate the missed timing? Take the extra step, and do the “right thing”.

Everyone makes mistakes; we should never expect anyone to be perfect, even ourselves or our business. Large businesses make errors, sometimes many, in their growing and maturing. Businesses and people who never make mistakes are stagnant, never doing anything. Do they learn from their mistakes? You must make the client know that you have taken steps to prevent the error from reoccurring, with them or anyone else.

It is how any business reacts to an error that helps me decide whether or not I will remain their client or not, and if I will refer them to someone else. Yes, I will refer a business or person even if they have made a mistake. Your actions in dealing with mistakes in business are what sets you apart and will result in your continuing to receive referrals or not.

Referrals are the lifeblood of every business. Loss of referrals from not dealing positively with your mistakes will result in failure of your business, because the loss of referrals will also go hand in hand with the tales of your actions which reflect on your business badly. These may be termed adverse referrals.
“Stay away from that business; they make mistakes and don’t make them right”. “They don’t care about their clients; their customer service is horrible.”

How do you deal with business mistakes? Do you apologize, taking ownership of the errors, try to make the client and transaction “whole” again, and then take steps to reassure the client that you have fixed the problem? Please leave me your thoughts here, or email me at, or call me at 360-314-8691. You will make mistakes. How you deal with them shows your Appreciation Marketing beliefs, and results in positive referrals.

1 comment:

  1. Very well said, Jim. It's not necessarily about what happened, it's about what is done to take rectify the matter -- the timeliness, the attitude, the tone, and the actions themselves.