What to Do When You Mess Up!

We all mess up and make mistakes.  It is part of life.

But what happens when you mess up big time?  What do you do and how do you explain this to your customers/buyers?What to Do When You Mess Up!

I remember back about ten years ago when I submitted orders via fax.  I would type my orders up and virtually fax them through my computer (don’t use anything other than email to transmit orders now!).

Little did I realize that I had taken an order for this very same vendor exactly one year to the date of the one I was processing that day.  I sure you can see what is coming …. I sent the order from the previous year instead of the new order.

OMG!  I was so upset, frustrated and embrassed that I had to calm down before I could call the vendor to let him know what I had done.  Of course, his efficient staff had already sent out the orders (I didn’t figure out the mistake until the following day).

So what could I do?

Let me share an article by Rob Fontier on How Should You Handle Your Mistakes:

Take Responsibility. Don’t displace blame onto others for your mistakes. Even if, ultimately, something beyond your control caused you to default on your promise, you still need to take responsibility for what happened….

Be honest. If you made a mistake, admit it.  Inventing excuses never helps the situation. The “my dog ate my homework” routine didn’t fool your teacher, so don’t try to fool your clients or customers, either….

Apologize. People are willing to be forgiving and understanding if you ask them to do so. Ask for forgiveness in in a sincere, heartfelt fashion, and not just in a hurried “I’m sorry and can we just move on now” manner….

Offer a Make-Good. Is there something extra you can add as part of the apology? A bonus session, added product, or anything else that can add value to the client’s experience will always go a long way in helping to smooth things over.

Be Nice. Although most people can be understanding when you screw up, not everyone will be.  In fact, some people will be downright irate, and they’ll have no trouble telling you so (usually in a loud, angry voice).  Keep your calm and just breathe. …. Some customers will respect you for trying to make the situation right, while others will just be upset and may not use your services again.

Yes, I made it through this terrible mistake.  I called all the store buyers who were going to receive products they did not order, apologized profusely (as I had done with the vendor), and asked what I could do to fix the situation.

Surprisingly, most of them said they would keep the products as they would probably sell them anyway.  Only one buyer didn’t want the order, so I picked it up and sold it to another store where I could deliver on the spot.

If you use Rob’s suggestions, you will be surprised how understanding people can be.  I sure found out!

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