Wednesday, February 01, 2006

How to make mistakes

We managed to mess up a customer’s order the other day. This is not great but it did give us a chance to make up for it.

Making up for your mistake is one way to show how much better you are than your competitors. Here is what to do:

  • Correct the error. In our case we didn’t put up a banner advert on the site then swanned off to a meeting where there was no net access. In the end it went up almost a day late, but we didn’t dally. The moment we got to a PC we uploaded the banner. That was the easy part.
  • Balance the books. Although it wasn’t a full day, we made sure the banner ran for an extra day to make sure the customer got what he paid for. That's easy too (although a lot of companies don't even get this far).
  • Go the extra mile. We may have sorted it, but that still wasn’t enough; we need to do more than he expects. So to apologise for being crap, we sent him some Craptrumps. Hopefully he will laugh and have a couple of games.
Does it work? At the very least he will remember us for being a bit silly, which can’t be bad. Business isn’t always about invoices and VAT returns after all. At best he will tell all his friends that sent him some Craptrumps, we get a slightly better name than we did before and he comes back to buy some more banners.

So if you mess up see it as a chance to shine. You might get a loyal customer out of it.

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