Everybody makes mistakes. What matters is how you handle your mistakes. Every mistake is actually an opportunity to reinforce your relationship with a client.

If you are selling a service, you are selling nothing more than a promise. A promise that you will do SOMETHING for a client. There is no widget that a prospect can hold or feel to give them a warm-fuzzy feeling that they are making the proper choice of service providers. The client is buying the integrity of a brand… and that the company behind the brand will deliver upon the promise.

How do you ensure that the brand builds integrity when you are bound to make the occasional mistake? Fix them fast. Fix them with quality. Make the client feel as if your #1 priority is fixing their issue when one arises.

Inside every mistake lies an opportunity. To paraphrase the book, ‘Selling the Invisible’, Harry Beckwith tells a story of a Minneapolis business man in the 1960′s visiting a tailor shop within a department store to pick up some items that were said to be ready. Upon his arrival, the business man is told that his items were not completed and were not ready for pickup as originally scheduled.

Before the business man even had a chance to complain, the clerk disappeared into the back room. Upon the clerk’s return, he informed the business man that they made a mistake and will fix it immediately. The clerk also sympathized with the business man, apologized, and said the issue will be resolved in 5 minutes and encouraged him to grab a complimentary beverage.

The business man went from being angry to being very appreciative of the store’s desire to fix the problem. While waiting for the item, the business man browsed the department store and found belt, tie, and suit coat that met his needs.

The manner in which the store clerk addressed the problem not only created a sense of appreciation with a client that would now last a lifetime, but the small tailoring job snowballed into a purchase of a belt, tie, and suit coat that totaled over $200… all because of the clerks recognition of a mistake and the desire to fix it fast, with quality, and his ability to make the customer feel appreciated.

There is no doubt the word-of-mouth story the business man would tell friends and colleagues went from one of poor service to one that would feature the store’s customer service and how they made him feel appreciated. The store Mr. Beckwith profiled was called Daytons. Daytons grew to become one of the world’s largest retailers now known as Target Corporation.

The main point of this story is that within every mistake lies an opportunity to demonstrate the quality of your organization’s service. Even platinum-level service organizations like Disney make mistakes, but it’s how they handle mistakes which makes them great.

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