Don’t Let Your Customers Pay For Your Mistakes

Mistakes are inevitable in business- even more than that, they’re an essential piece of the puzzle as you grow an organisation from a small operation to a medium or large-sized enterprise; it’s all about learning from your mistakes so you can move into tomorrow better equipped from having made those silly little errors. While it may be fine to make some mistakes as you grow, you and your team should be trying everything in your power to minimise the harm done to your clients. Somewhat ironically, your customers should be the last to pay when it comes to these unexpected surprises.

What we mean by this is, are your customers the ones paying the price while you ‘figure it out’ or attempt to address what’s going wrong? If so, change that- now!

Before we get into that, let’s talk about the need to make changes. An organisation that stands still may as well be going backward, because the moment you stop anticipating and preparing for the potential storm you might be weathering tomorrow, next week or next year, you’re vulnerable to competitors overtaking you or a disruption in the market to swallow your profitability. Making too many changes too quickly, however, is a common occurrence in organisations that are panicking to address risks in their operations directly.

This ‘all-hands-on-deck’ approach can be useful in some cases, but can also become a costly learning exercise if you abandon your customers. So, on the one hand, we need to balance the fact that your organisation needs to experiment with new ways of operating, new processes, new areas of improving your failings, minimising your risks and doubling down on what you’re already doing well. On the other hand, however, you’ve got to take into account the fact that in this period of experimentation, or improvement of your product or services, you don’t want the customer to be alerted to the fact you’re transitioning through a period of change.

‘It’s all about making changes with your customers being completely unimpeded”

Don’t be afraid to make changes- that’s not what we are saying in this piece…. Just try to keep your customers oblivious to the fact that you’re doing work behind the scenes, and don’t let them pay any price – be it with their time, patience, frustration or money – simply due to the fact your organisation needed to change something. It’s not their problem, so you’re simply not allowed to make it their problem by breaking a promise made to them between your organisation and theirs.

You want your clients, stakeholders and suppliers to be in a state of ignorant bliss about your operations- no matter how dire your circumstances seem at the time. If your customers pick up on the scent that your organisation might be faltering, this is definitely not going to fill them with confidence… they might end up running in the opposite direction from your organisation. If you suddenly stop delivering on promises that you were making to your customers last week, they’ll be quickly alerted to the fact that something isn’t right about your organisation’s operations- and you don’t want any negative or even speculative word of mouth about your organisation getting out there.

Some tips we can give you in this context is to ensure everyone in your organisation is on board with your mission and realises the importance of keeping your customers happy. Keep everyone informed of the metrics that measure your customer satisfaction – and other key performance indicators around the organisation – so everyone in the team is able to get a brief yet accurate snapshot of how you’re tracking. This will also – hopefully, at least – give you an idea ahead of time when it comes to things that need addressing.

Most of what we’ve been talking about today centres on the idea that you’ve needed to address something in a short period of time, and assuring your customers aren’t negatively impacted, however, if you’ve got a good idea of how you’re tracking, you’re more likely to anticipate risks before they become an existential threat. This, in turn, allows you to spend more time in the planning phases, as your team tosses up a range of ways your organisation could implement a change without negatively impacting your customers or suppliers.

Be aware of the fact that if you’re changing something key to your operations, your customer simply cannot pay the price if something goes wrong. Your organisation needs to be prepared to pay the price first, before passing on any negativity to the customer.

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