Using mistakes to make memorable moments for your business

smiley face stress ballThere’s more to building a business than advertising, yet how many organizations spend more of their budgets on marketing and attracting new customers, while neglecting the importance of maintaining current customers and making sure their needs have been met? There is no doubt that every company is going to make mistakes, but how many companies lose the opportunities to build their brand by using those complaints to their advantage?

It’s not enough to just acknowledge a mistake – customers want organizations to make the correction, and they don’t want to be kept waiting. So much attention has been brought to the airline industry lately from truly disgruntled passengers who despite the airlines acknowledgement and apology in the media for keeping passengers locked in the plane on the tarmac for seven hours, no contact information for passengers trying to desperately find flight connections, or rude attendants, corrections are never established nor does anyone ever get back to the passengers affected by the inconceivably poor customer service.

In a time when people don’t want to be kept waiting when it’s obviously the fault of the organization and those very angry paying customers are feeling as if the company just doesn’t care, what do you think is going to happen? Unhappy customers tell their friends, relatives, and coworkers. Just supposing Susan Jones gets poor service from a company, and she tells six people who now tell six  more people. Keep multiplying and before long, the numbers can get staggering. While it may not make a significant lump in the throat of JetBlue Airlines, any small or medium organization can take a big hit out of their profit margins when the news of unhappy customers spiral.

So how do organizations mitigate issues and turn those frowns into smiles? Of course, we all know that mistakes are going to happen, and no one is perfect. The key to controlling the situation however is to apologize immediately and to apologize directly to the customer. Make the correction and do it immediately. Employ key customer service personnel who have been trained to deal with angry customers and who have the discretionary ability to appease the customer using whatever it takes (of course within reason) to show the customer the company really cares.

Those are the customers who will more than likely one day appear again as a brand supporter. People want to talk about good experiences, so instead of companies spending all of their money on advertising, try focusing on the customers. There should be no boundaries when it comes to pleasing those very people who have helped to make you a success.

photo credit: jetheriot