Profit From Your Mistakes

Posted By on Jan 12, 2011 | 6 comments


Isn’t it, “learn from your mistakes?”

Learning from your mistakes, and sharing what you learn, can be profitable. Sharing lessons may be transparency at its best. No one is perfect. No one will start a religion after any of us. I believe most of us are looking for others we can trust. Let me ask, who do you trust – someone who shares their mistakes (and lessons), or those who present a pristine, mistake-free exterior? Have you ever made a mistake with a new, influential customer’s first contract? We did. We fixed the mistake, learned from it, and shared our lesson on social media, which resulted in new orders and referrals. More about that later…

Plan To Learn From And Share Your Mistakes

  • Apologize – Do not be defensive, point fingers, or pass the blame.
  • Take responsibility – As my daughters say, “Put on your big-girl panties.”
  • Initiate a solution – Fix the problem. Do it right, quick, and exceed your customer’s expectations. Ask your organization, “what will make them an advocate?”
  • Learn from the mistake – Was there a procedure? Was it followed? Was it consequential? Is training required? Is a new procedure needed? Should there be corrective action?
  • Implement a procedure – Agree on a procedure. Then – to avoid mistakes in future – train, use, and monitor it.
  • Share it – Post the mistake on your website, record a video, write a blog, and share it on social media.

Look Who’s Talking
It is important to know what is being said about your organization. It’s easy and convenient to track your company’s online reputation. Google Alerts can be used to send emails alerts about your organization, niche, and interests. Tweet Deck and Hootsuite can not only be used to organize your social media, but to keep track of your organization, customers, competitors and more. Advanced searches such as Advanced Twitter Searches, can be used for specific searches including geographics, attitudes, and phrases.

Do you want the latest buzz about your organization? Addictomatic and Icerocket search multiple media types including blog posts, videos, and images.

Can You Be Too Transparent?

What mistakes should you share? Should you share all of them, or a few of them? Could too much sharing seem like self-promotion, and not transparency? I believe the answer is to share important lessons. If you haven’t learned something from your mistake, what would you have to share? The best lessons transcend across industries. Ask yourself, “can others learn from my lesson?”

Too many admissions, when not necessary, can also make a company look incompetent. A well-functioning customer service Twitter channel for a large company, for instance, will have its share of customer complaints, where each one of them can be resolved in public view.

What We Learned From Our Mistake

In the first paragraph, I mentioned an initial order gone bad. The company was Ricker’s Oil Company. We messed up, apologized and took responsibility, corrected the problem, and met the customer’s needs. We then learned from the experience, initiated corrective procedures, and shared the story in No Problems, Just Opportunities.

We learned. We shared. We profited.

How Did We Profit?

  • Ricker’s placed additional orders with us.
  • Ricker’s encouraged us to attend the NACS trade show.
  • Ricker’s SM manager, @JonBausman, mentioned TKO Graphix in a major

NACS presentation.

  • TKO received over 200 prospective leads and referrals.

Want More Examples?

Comcast @comcastcares – I never thought I’d say good things about Comcast. My experience with Comcast has included a frustrating AVR system, and unhappy, unprepared subcontractors. I connected with @comcastcares and found an internet outage. I joined the conversation, received a response in less than five minutes, along with two follow-ups within an hour. They did not hide from the problem. They shared information and solutions.

Zappos @zappos, who was recently bought by Amazon, encourages all employees to micro-network. Everyone tweets, including the CEO. They are social, answering customer problems, concerns, and questions.

FedEx https://www.facebook.com/Fedex – They are so transparent, we take it for granted. How many companies offer tools, promotions, and business solutions on SM?

Dell http://www.dell.com/twitter was one of the first brands to experience how social networking has changed the world. They learned the hard way (remember the Dell-Hell tribe?). With over 30 Dell Community Ambassadors at IdeaStorm, monitoring and engaging on social networks, the company has turned a problem into an opportunity. The ambassador program not only pays for itself – it shows a profit.

There’s A Bonus

It’s fun to do the right thing. There is something fulfilling about taking responsibility. It feels good to apologize. It’s great to help customers get what they expect and deserve – and, it can be profitable.

Today’s guest post is written by Randy Clark. Randy is the Director of Communications, where he blogs for TKO Graphix Brandwire. Prior to TKO, he spent 13 years with Unique Home Solutions as Marketing Director and VP of Operations. He is an avid flower gardener, beer geek, and he fronts a rock & Roll band on the weekends. And yes, he is a Boomer.

6 Comments

  1. Randy, an associate of mine just made a giant, business-ending mistake with the primary client. After weeks of stressing over it, he finally came clean, and the client completely understood and they're still in business. Sounds like it will lead to greater profits in the future too, as in your case. Thanks for the interesting read.

    Post a Reply
    • What a great ending, or beginning, to your friends’ story. Thank you for sharing, Randy

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  2. Awesome post! Thx for sharing. I think any successful entrepreneur has profited from their mistakes…it's the nature of being an entrepreneur. I think those that don't go out of business eventually.

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  3. I absolutely agree and may take your thought further. Is learning from your mistakes part of being a better person overall? Is it the nature of successful people?

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  4. Awesome blog, Randy! Thoughtful and useful as always. Kudos, Kyle for having Randy be a guest writer.

    Post a Reply
    • Thank you Jake. I am privileged by TKO to be able to do this. You know – the writing thingie type stuff, I mean…

      Post a Reply

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