Turning Mistakes Into Opportunities
It was just another day with another important marketing campaign underway. We were about to send an email that had taken many hours over many days. It was carefully planned and carefully set up. Several rounds of revision had yielded a marketing masterpiece. The words just right. The graphics eye-catching. The call-to-actions pitch-perfect.
Hit send? Hit send.
Finally, the email is off to thousands of readers. The team did a high five and breathed a collective sigh of relief ready to prep for the leads that will be generated.
And then someone clicked on one of the links. It didn’t work. None of them did. Somehow in the back and forth of the revisions, the link updates had been lost.
As immediately as we could, we fixed the links and prepped a follow on email admitting the error and making a personal plea for understanding. It had a higher open rate than the first one. And, more importantly, a higher response rate than we had been expecting.
We’re human. Mistakes happen. The number of things that can go wrong in a day is mind-numbing. Orders get misplaced. Invites don’t get issued. Messages are sent to the wrong person.
Yes, we need to be careful and diligent and pay attention to details. Yes, mistakes can be detrimental and put us back. But, we also need to acknowledge that things will go wrong and be prepared to do damage control.
Start by giving yourself a break. You can’t change what has happened. You can only look ahead. At some point, you will want to analyze what’s gone wrong and make changes to prevent it from happening again. But save that for later. First, figure out the best way to deal with the issue and figure out how to turn the error into an opportunity.
No harm, no foul
How big is the error really? Any error is bad but sometimes they feel worse than they really are. Sometimes the biggest blow is to our ego but they don’t matter in the big scheme of things. Do an honest assessment to determine if this is one of those things you just need to let go. Will correcting it draw more attention to the problem? If so, leave it be and move on to the assessment process to prevent future mistakes.
Make it better
If there’s no way around it and you have to acknowledge and make a response, figure out how to take advantage of the situation. Be guided by your brand, your customers, and the type of mistake.
Maybe all that’s needed is another email with a heartfelt or humorous note about what happened and how you’ve fixed it. You don’t need to go into details about how it happened – unless you want to and you feel it will help you connect better with your customers.
Make a big deal out of it
If it’s a big enough issue or you feel compelled, go beyond sending out a correction and reach out through other channels with an offer to make it up to customers. Have an extra sale or offer a bonus item.
The best approach is to be real. Of course, no one wants mistakes. It can erode trust and chip away at the perceived value of a brand. The goal, however, is to highlight the true value of the company and that includes how you respond when things go wrong. No finger pointing. No throwing people under the bus. Just honesty and commitment to making things right and better in the future.
The fire is out, now what?
Once you’ve dealt with the fallout, it’s time to figure out what went wrong and how to fix it for the long haul if possible.
Take a look at your systems. What went wrong? What can you change? Maybe you need a different system or maybe there is a need for a checklist or a different review process.
But keep in mind that it all has to be done cost-effectively. We’re often working with tight budgets and that may mean needing to push ahead at the risk of errors.
At the end of the day, you strive for perfection but readjust your understanding of what that means. You may not be able to stop the error, but you can make the most of it.