3 Ways to Handle Mistakes
It's an unfortunate part of doing business, but things will go wrong. Mistakes will happen. It's what you do AFTER the mistake happens that's key. A very human reaction is to deflect - but blaming someone else is the wrong thing to do! If you own the business, the buck stops with you whether you actually created the mistake or not. Here are 3 great ideas for handling mistakes and keeping your clients happy!
That sounds simple enough, but too often people can't (or won't) do it. A sincere apology goes a LONG way to defusing a tense situation. I recently went into a tile store only to find out that the person I had an appointment with wasn't expecting me. I was surprised, but luckily she was able to walk through some tile options with me. Halfway through our meeting, the manager came over and said he had forgotten to log my call and book the appointment – and he apologized profusely. It made me think more of him because he took responsibility! That's the way to treat your client. Even if a sub made the mistake, or your assistant didn't process the order, YOU have to be the one to apologize to the client. Oh - and that needs to be done by phone or in person, NOT with an email or text. Pick up the phone as soon as you notice the mistake, too. Don't wait!
2. Offer Solutions
In a design project, the client is going to immediately worry about how the mistake or issue is going to impact the look or the final outcome. The best thing you can do is apologize and then offer solutions. It could be that you plan to pay for the new order, or that you will quickly find a substitution. Or you may want to offer several solutions for your client to choose from. Just be ready to give them a quick and easy way to work through the mistake and move on!
3. Learn from It
You've apologized to your client. You've owned up to what happened. And you've found a solution that works for your client. Whew - it's all over, right?! WRONG! Now you've got to figure out how to keep it from happening again! Think carefully about what happened and where the mistake occurred. Did you forget to tell the painters about a change in the color? Was it that your assistant wrote down 3 inches instead of 5 when measuring a space? Or maybe the furniture manufacturer inadvertently sent you the wrong item. Whatever happened, you need to be darn sure it doesn't happen again. Check your processes carefully. Look over your system for communicating with subs and vendors. See where things might have broken down and come up with a way to head that off at the pass. Most of the time, if you have strong processes in place, they will help you avoid any major issues.
To help with that, download my FREE Guide to Organizing a Client Binder. Keeping that binder up to date will help you avoid a LOT of mistakes and headaches. And if you don't have processes in place, or you want to update and streamline them, check out my Return on Interiors system. It gives you the ability to take control of your interior design business at EVERY step. There's no better way to avoid mistakes than to have everything in place and under control!