Music. To the Beat of Marketing. #15

A random shuffle of the SJI iPod reveals this week’s marketing tip, brought to you by…

 Elton John – Sorry Seems to Be the Hardest Word

 (hint: if you can’t see the player, click  the blog title above)

Today, we’re going to take you to The Dark Side.  Of Customer Service, that is.  After 24 years of customer service, we’ve learned a thing or two.  The first of which is this: It’s not a matter of whether or not you’ll ever make a mistake.  It’s the way you handle those mistakes that will determine your character. In business and in life.

Somewhere along the way, the printer will drop the ball, the online order system will go down, or the client will send the wrong artwork file.  It happens.  How will you handle it? We’ve made mistakes.  We’ve also been on the receiving end of a few doozies.  Sometimes, it’s someone else’s mistake that can end up making you look bad.  Here, a few tips for navigating through these murky waters:

  1. Take responsibility.  Quick. Sure, it may have been a combination of things that caused the mistake.  But, stand up and take ownership of your part.  Now.  Don’t wait for everyone else to raise their hands.  You’ll look better having stepped forward first.
  2. State your desire to make it right.  Don’t just assume you know what the customer needs and do it.  You don’t know what other issues your mistake caused.  Rather than sending a form apology email with a voucher, try saying something like this: I want to fix this.  What can I do to make it right?  It could be that the request isn’t possible to meet, but showing that you are listening, open to suggestions and truly want to fix the issue will mean much more than just sending a coupon.
  3. Get our your fork and knife.  Sometimes you’re left with a decision.  Would you rather suffer financially in the short term (fixing someone else’s error), or ruin your reputation (and lose an important client or two in the process)?  Pointing fingers isn’t going to get you far.  Better to eat the cost of the mistake and salvage your reputation for the long term.
  4. Go old school.  There is still nothing that cuts through the clutter like a hand-written note.  C’mon you know this.  It’s why we still do it after a new business presentation, or a job interview.  It’s why we still teach our kids to write thank you notes after their birthday parties.  So even after the dust has settled and the situation has been righted, pull out your pen and a real piece of stationary.  And write a note.
  5. Bottom Line: Don’t let it get personal.  Human instinct might have you thinking murderous thoughts.  And right now, the hardest thing might be to walk away. But that’s exactly what you should do.  Then come back with a calmer, more focused state of mind.  It’s just business.  Take care of the issue and move on.

Your Turn: How does your company handle mistakes? And as a consumer, what’s a company’s best bet for handling mistakes with you?

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