So You Messed Up: Dealing with Business Mistakes

A quick search of Amazon reveals dozens of books written about business failures. The subject of what not to do is extremely popular. It works on several levels–there are practical lessons to be learned from flops, but it also makes you feel a little bit better about your own business mistakes. “Well, at least I didn’t do something that stupid…”
Although they are interesting and informative, these types of writing offer very little helpful information on what to do when you make a mistake. Perhaps a shipment doesn’t go out, or you make an error in a calculation, or some other minor catastrophe threatens your reputation and your relationship with a client. It can be difficult to navigate these types of situations when most of your time and energy goes into avoiding this scenario.

1. Start working to fix the problem as soon as you find out about it.

Make a plan to fix the problem within a clear timeframe.

2. Apologize.

Remember, customers don’t care about who did what. If the shipment isn’t there, you have a responsibility to fix the situation, even if it isn’t your fault. Certainly, it is fine to explain exactly what went wrong. Just be aware that nine times out of ten, the client is not going to care and probably won’t retain any information.

3. Make a peace offering.

Besides reimbursing clients for whatever they paid for, offer up an additional product, service, or discount if at all possible.

4. Emphasize how important the client is.

Clients want to be reassured that they are your number one priority. It is difficult to convince them of this after a gaffe.
Although business owners work very hard to avoid mistakes, we all find ourselves in an unfortunate situation from time to time. Properly handling mistakes is crucial to thriving as a business.

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