Everyone makes mistakes, even the most celebrated business innovators and entrepreneurs. Henry Ford went bankrupt twice before launching his iconic car brand. Walt Disney was fired from a cartoonist position for lack of talent and imagination. And Steve Jobs was kicked out of his own company before making a big comeback. Each of these top business leaders could have succumbed to their mistakes or failures and the world we live in would have been tremendously different.
However, they did not give up and neither should you if you commit a mistake when running your business. Maybe you sent the wrong order to a customer, or you typed a wrong price for a product in your online store. Or maybe you did not rise up to one customer’s expectations and they are openly challenging you on the social media for an explanation.
Whatever your mistake may have been, here is a piece of advice applicable to all situations: don’t try to hide it, but own it instead. Address it publicly on the social media if necessary, or privately in an email to your unhappy customer. Do your best to fix it, and offer your clients and social media followers some closure in the form of a message explaining how you settled the matter. To motivate you further, here are five ways in which owning your mistakes will help your business:
1. Everyone Loves Happy Endings
Every engaging book and movie is based on the same plot: a conflict, forces pitted one against the other, a cathartic battle and finally the happy end. This kind of plot is acted out every day, at large- or small-scale level, all over the world. A customer calling you out on Facebook for bad service ignites such a plot.
You can either face the issue, discover the root of the problem, own it and do everything you can to fix it, or you can ignore it, delete the offensive comment and pretend that it did not exist. In the second instance, there will always be a lingering sense of doubt among your other followers, or the unhappy customer may be determined enough to continue bad mouthing you on various forums and other social media platforms. In the first instance, you can demonstrate that you truly care about your customers, possibly win back your angry client and give everyone else the sense of a happy end to a tense situation.
2. Mistakes Help You Learn Valuable Lessons
Every mistake is a potential valuable lesson. Even large companies discovered a weak link in their business operations through such mistakes. Major improvements were usually made after a mistake occurred. Whatever the situation, always try to discover a way in which you can permanently prevent the re-occurrence of a mistake, by fixing or changing the way in which you are doing things, interacting with your customers and promoting your business.
In many instances, you won’t even know that there was something wrong, until one of your customers or social media followers draws your attention towards it.
3. Owning Mistakes Strengthens Your Relationship with Customers
Nobody is perfect – your customers know it and they do not actually expect perfection from you (although they express it in public opinions). Deep inside everyone knows that companies are run by people and mistakes may occur.
How you deal with them makes the big difference. If you own it and solve it, people will understand that you are actively doing your best to create better products and services for them, and you are actually striving to give them extra value for their money. And they will stay loyal to you.
4. Small Mistakes Prevent Big Ones
You should actually be thankful that your customers draw your attention towards a small mistake. Left undetected, in time, this mistake will become chronic and will affect your business at an increasingly higher level, until it becomes embedded in everything you do. And one day, one huge mistake will occur and ruin your good reputation. Owning up to a small mistake and solving it is the best way of avoiding such a catastrophic scenario. So, when it happens, deal with it professionally and with the knowledge that you have prevented even more serious issues.
5. Nurture a Problem Solving Culture
Many small and large companies will make mistakes, but the difference between the successful ones and the failed ones is the way they deal with them. Companies that learn from their start-up level to own up to mistakes and find solutions will nurture a problem-solving culture, where each employee has a voice and can come forward with creative ideas. These companies are bound to become innovative, successful and have lots of loyal customers.
As you can see, owning a mistake in business is not a sign of weakness. On the contrary, it is a sign that you are dedicated to excellent service and you are willing to do what it takes to keep your customers happy.