What happens when you make a mistake? You won’t be the first salesperson that does something you regretted later. It doesn’t have to be the end of the world. Here’s how to make lemonade out of lemons.
Be prepared. I once worked for a company who manufactured a product for airplanes. Imagine the panic that ensued when they discovered late one Friday afternoon that a product test sample was off spec. Even worse was that the product had already been shipped across the country to aviation supply stores. Immediately, lab management got on the phone to alert vendors to immediately stop selling the product and pick up any product that had already been sold. Of course full credit would be issued. The system worked flawlessly and fortunately none of the product caused any damage or catastrophes. Why did things work out so well? When the issue arose, there was already a system in place to quickly address the problem. Once a serious mistake occurs, it’s too late to develop a thoughtful process to remedy the situation. Problem resolution can be done much more effectively without stress!
Be sincere. A customer of mine recently participated in a trade show. He had a drawing to win an iPod, an MP3 player and some other nice prizes for the visitors to his booth. What he didn’t realize was he put the second place prize, the MP3 player in the first place prize bag. He only realized it when he was going to give the MP3 player and saw that the bag contained an iPod. He called me in a panic. The first place winner had already left the trade show with the lesser prize. He felt awful and didn’t have the time to go out and buy another iPod to correct the mistake. I counseled him instead to call the person who got the MP3 player and explain the mistake. Offer to replace it if that’s what the winner wanted. She was fine with the MP3 player. A sincere offer to remedy the situation will often be enough to address any concerns.
Is it a lemon? Sometimes the best intentions have different effects than you want. One business owner thought her customer base would be interested in a local program. She invited via email her 5,000 contacts to attend the program. One of her customers called her to complain. Why? The program was for a political candidate and the customer thought it was very inappropriate to use a customer database to promote a political program. The business owner immediately sent a follow up email with the subject line “Please accept my apologies.” She wrote, “I may have offended some of my customers and never meant to do that. I thought my customers would be interested in hearing this debate. Please accept my apology. I will not be sending out any political messages in the future.” Was that the end of the issue? No. She heard from over four hundred customers who didn’t think it was such a big deal. Six months later she got emails from even more clients who were cleaning out their email boxes and sending her the same supportive comments. Sometimes a problem isn’t a problem. So when you address it quickly, you show all your customers that you care about them and get an unexpected opportunity to build customer support for your business.