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Mistakes are Opportunities

Apr 16, 2013 by Bill Collier 2 Comments

Every company makes mistakes. That's one thing all businesses have in common.

That said, each mistake is an opportunity - especially if the error affects a customer.

Some companies blame anyone or anything but themselves. They may or may not correct it. They may or may not apologize. Some act like they’re doing you a favor if you ask them to correct their own goof-up.

A culture of blame exists in these firms. Their mantra is “It’s not my fault."

Other companies immediately correct mistakes – especially for customers. They apologize. They might even offer the customer something extra to show they’re serious.

A culture of accountability exists in these firms. Their mantra is “Fix the problem to the complete satisfaction of the customer.”

Clearly, the second type of company is where you want to be. But, consider kicking it up a notch to turn costly mistakes into profitable occurrences.

Let’s say Bob’s Computer Service gets a call from their customer Big Company, Inc., telling them that Bob’s driver delivered their repaired monitor but they didn't get their power cord back.

Bob’s has a work culture of accountability, so the rep apologizes, arranges to have it delivered right away and offers a discount to make up for the aggravation. So far, so good. Even though the rep did everything right, most of Bob’s competitors would do the same, so it was good, but not extraordinary.

What if Bob’s takes the time to find and fix the root cause of the error? Now they begin to separate themselves from their competitors who, as soon as the customer’s problem is resolved, get back to their hectic routine. (Hey, if you’re busy putting out fires all day, every day, it’s tough to find time to install a sprinkler system.) This is the first way to profit – by driving repeat mistakes out of your business and enjoying the resultant productivity improvements.

And here’s one more step: bring the customer back into the loop. What if someone from Bob’s contacted Big Company, Inc. and it went something like this:

“Thank you for bringing your missing power cord to our attention. As a result of this situation, we reworked our procedures. Each product that arrives for service now gets a tag on which all accessories received are documented. Nobody – including you – should ever fail to get all your accessories back with repaired equipment.”

Almost nobody does this sort of thing. This level of dedication to quality, customer service and follow-through puts Bob’s Computer Service in rare company and helps create strong, life-long customer relationships. And, we all know the value of customers who are also raving fans.

We all make mistakes. You may as well profit from yours.

 

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Bill Collier is the St. Louis area coach for The Great Game of Business. He helps businesses improve their financial results. He is the author of “How to Succeed as a Small Business Owner … and Still Have a Life” Bill can be reached at 314-221-8558, GreatGame.com/stl or billcollier@greatgame.com. His blog is http://ggobstl.wordpress.com.

 

 

 

Topics: Company Culture, Leadership

Bill Collier
Written by Bill Collier

Bill Collier is the author of “How to Succeed as a Small Business Owner … and Still Have a Life”. He helps businesses improve their financial results by teaching employees to think and act like owners.

About The Great Game of Business

Our approach to running a company was developed to help close one of the biggest gaps in business: the gap between managers and employees. We call our open-book approach The Great Game of Business. What lies at the heart of The Game is a very simple proposition: The best, most efficient, most profitable way to operate a business is to give everybody in the company a voice in saying how the company is run and a stake in the outcome. Let us teach you how to develop a culture of ownership, where employees think, act and feel like owners.