While mistakes in business can fill us with dread and embarrassment, like many other times of trial and adversity they can be turned into an opportunity to showcase the professionalism, integrity and authenticity of our business.
So how do you recover with your reputation in tact after you've dropped the ball? Here are three tips to help you turn a mistake into a marketing opportunity and win the respect of your customers and business associates.
1. Remember mistakes can be the best teachers
When money is coming in, the phone is ringing, our customers are happy and everything is going smoothly we don’t always look for ways to improve, change, update, innovate or leverage to make our business work better. After all if it’s working why mess with it – right?
Just think about it, when are you more motivated and driven to change your marketing approach or bring in sales, in a slow month or a busy month? What about adding value to your customers and increasing your level of customer service? Are you more likely to think about it when you have a happy customer or an unhappy customer?
When are you more innovative and creative in business, when it’s business as usual or you’re under threat because of a mistake, wrong decision or competitor?
Creativity and innovation thrive when we are under fire. There is nothing quite like making a mistake or facing adversity and the accompanying pain or embarrassment, to get us out of our comfort zone and into our creative, innovative and strategic problem-solving zone to find a better way.
So take the education, learn the lesson, find a way to make it better or prevent it from happening in the future and make the change.
2. Realise mistakes can humanize you and help build rapport
The fact is we all make mistakes, and provided it is small, there is limited damage and the intent was innocent, mistakes can actually work for us, making us more relatable and approachable to our customers and business associates.
To give you an example, many years ago I told a potential customer they could get “one product for the price of three!” – a bargain right?! This silly, slip of the tongue completely broke the ice, gave them a good laugh and allowed me to build a good rapport with them over the phone which lead to an ongoing relationship and ongoing sales.
Who hasn’t made a typo, got tongue tied, sent an email to the wrong person, forgotten to do something, misspoke, or made a wrong decision? The key is in how you handle it, recover from it and make up for it.
Could you use the mistake or blunder as a rapport builder, a case study to help your customers avoid the same mistakes themselves or as an opportunity to showcase new and better procedures, methods or measures?
3. Use your mistakes as an opportunity to show your character
There is something inspiring about a person who takes responsibility for their actions, faces the consequences and tries to make it right. It shows character.
So if you do make a mistake own it, if you make the wrong decision fix it and if you have an unhappy customer, address it. Be professional, admit your mistake, apologise and make it right.
By being open, honest and accountable for your mistakes you not only protect your reputation, you can end up having more people want to work with you simply because of the attitude you have and actions you have taken.