Sometimes mistakes can have unexpected benefits.
My first internet company turned out to be a web development company (although it was never intended that way initially, we pivoted from being a localised business portal after I failed miserably to sell enough advertising for the site).
It was comparatively early days on the web, in 1998.
A few years later after selling the business, I looked back at our client roster and realised that the top 5 most loyal clients who had been with us longest, had all experienced a major problem during the first project we executed; but because we handled the problem well they had become more loyal than clients who had never had a problem.
Good service is so hard to come by these days, that when people receive truly good, honest service, it stands out disproportionately.
Sebastian Coe in his book The Winning Mind notes that “Human error tends to be the norm”. It seems inevitably then that you or your team will make errors and most likely on a regular basis.
View these as an opportunity. Fixing a problem well for a customer will always result in more loyalty than they originally had.
Of course not all errors can be spun easily to a positive. With a slip-up which loses a position of strength in business negotiations, or with a pilot making an error causing a fatal aeroplane crash, it would be difficult to see any sort of lining – let alone a silver one.
Thankfully in the world of day to day customer care, most errors are not life threatening. They are usually more irritating and time consuming for your customer, than anything else.
Big companies almost always deliver such appalling service that responding promptly to a problem and then over delivering with a fix (preferably including a gesture of compensation or good will) is a huge pulsing exception in the darkness of unanswered complaints, blame and denial of culpability which brands and big business routinely dish out to us, their customers.
Don’t let your company fall to this fate.
Fixing a customer problem should be approached as an attempt to garner irrational brand loyalty. In other words, use it as a step toward becoming a lovemark in the eyes of your customer.
You don’t even have to believe me. Read Delivering Happiness by Tony Heish, a book of his approach to customer service at Zappos, or read my article about Johan Nordstorm – who’s chain of stores in the US proved exceptional customer service and profitability are not mutually exclusive; or my older blog post on a similar topic – why do corporates make simple mistakes?