Mistakes and problems happen often — No matter how careful we are, things sometimes just don’t work out the way we expected.
Often, the mistakes are not our fault, but the customer does not know or care about whose fault it is, they just want the issue fixed.
This reminds me of a time we ordered some holiday merchandise for our (now sold) Tastes of Idaho webstore. Since it was during the holiday season, we were in a bit of a hurry to receive the products. But the package didn’t come.
After doing some research and contacting the vendor, we discovered that the package had been left at our mailbox (instead of being taken to our door) and, consequently, stolen. Over $250 worth of merchandise gone …. (By the way, UPS showed us a satellite picture of the package being left at the mailbox).
Who was at fault? Not the vendor as they shipped on time; not us, as we did not know the UPS man had left the package where they did; and although, the UPS folks should have delivered it to our door, it was not their fault it was stolen.
When I talked to the vendor about the lost shipment, I was told: “Don’t worry about it. We have insure to cover these kinds of things. We reship the order tomorrow.”
WOW! Notice they did not blame us, the freight company or anything else. They took responsibility to fix the problem as quickly as they could.
I recently read an article on the Business of Being Creative website on responding when things to wrong. Here is a excerpt from the article:
My first thought is a statement: throwing money at the problem solves nothing. Giving a client their money back is just a way of patting them on the head and telling them to go away. A refund does nothing to repair the pain you have caused by breaching their trust. Now, if the client has been a class A you-know-what AND the project bombed, a refund is adding lighter fluid to a bonfire. Most often, refunding money is only the first step and often the placebo you, the creative business owner, convince yourself will make the problem go away. I will not, there has to be more.
The more is empathy, sympathy and resolve to create another memory that will never replace the sour taste but, instead, will create its own sweetness. First, empathy. Start with the vulnerability that the client was looking for your art to transform them, to fill an emotional void. Whatever the cause, your work did not accomplish its mission. That is a reason for sadness and a moment for you to stop and say, “Wow, that sucks.” There will be time enough for the blame game, however in the first moment of empathy and sympathy you can convey your deep desire as an artist to make things as right as they can be. You can then express your commitment to their memory, a desire to make things as they ought to be with the specific knowledge that nothing will remove the memory of what went wrong.
Empathy and sympathy can go along way in healing wrongs and fixing problems.
In the example I gave, the vendor could just as easily told us that our stolen order was not their responsibility, but they didn’t.
Excellent example to use in your own business!