We ALL make mistakes, we are human after all, but I know how hard it is to not mentally beat yourself up and to want to run and hide.
How we deal with a mistake and communicate it with our customers is also HUGELY important to maintain good relationships, stay professional and avoid bad feeling and negative reviews.
Don’t put your running shoes on just yet, because in this post we will go through 7 steps to dealing with the mistake both mentally and practically so that the situation is dealt with appropriately and you can move on from it.
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Put your feelings and emotions to one side and ask yourself “Do I need to take immediate action to fix this mistake?”
So is the mistake going to have an impact on the well being of a pet, for example you let go of a lead and a dog has run off and you can’t find it or they’ve had a serious accident.
If YES you need to get your emergency action plan into gear.
Bonus tip – If you don’t already have an emergency action plan in place create one now!
If your mistake doesn’t need immediate action ask yourself “Do I still need to call someone, the Pet’s human, emergency contact or vet?” to let them know what’s happened. Don’t worry about disturbing their holiday or work, they will appreciate you keeping them in the loop.
Make sure the situation is dealt with before you rush to your next job, next client or next task. Being late to your next client or missing a deadline is not as important as sorting out the current situation or dealing with your mistake.
I’ve heard of Dog Walkers going to their next job and leaving a dog missing while the owner frantically searches for it. Your other furry clients may be desperate for the loo but at the end of the day a little toilet accident is not a massive issue if you have a missing pet on your hands and your other clients will understand.
Communication, ask yourself “Do I need to ask for help and/or let anyone else know?” Is there another local Dog Walker you could call to ask for help, a friend or relative, or can anyone else contact your other customers to let them know you’ll be late or need to cancel?
Honestly, keeping everyone in the loop and communicating the problem is so much better than trying to deal with it on your own or trying to sort it without anyone knowing.
ALWAYS tell the truth.
Being honest about a mistake and quickly is so important, not only to maintain good relationships with your customers but it avoids bad feeling and trust issues in the future, plus stops the mistake getting any worse.
Bad feedback or negative feeling spreads like wildfire and can ruin a business in an instant. You’ve heard the old saying ‘it takes years to build a good reputation and seconds to lose it.’
An example of this is an embroidery business a friend of mine used for her uniforms. She was being fobbed off for months, told the items had been posted, then told they were still being finished, ignored, basically messed around and lied to to the point where my friend asked for her money back, left a bad review and won’t be using them again.
When in fact the company just didn’t want to admit that they were having trouble fitting her logo on the item of clothing she’d picked. No biggie! But lack of communication, fibs and false promises caused the issue to escalate and resulted in bad feelings and them losing money.
Follow up with your customer, apologise if you need to, ask about the pet if applicable, show that you’re mortified (for example if you forgot to visit a dog, it happens!) if necessary show them what actions you’ve taken to rectify the mistake or what steps you’ll be putting in place to stop it happening again.
Try to leave things on good terms. No matter how much you apologise sometimes certain people will still take their anger out on you and turn a small mistake into something huge. Try your hardest not to turn it back on them, blame them or give it back to them all guns blazing. I know its hard but this will only lead to possible negative reviews and don’t forget anything you put in writing can be screenshotted, shared and taken out of context.
Dealing with that voice inside that screams YOU IDIOT WHY DID YOU DO THAT and that sinking feeling that you get when you mess up, can be hard and upsetting.
So just know…
- You aren’t the first and you certainly won’t be the last to make a mistake
- You can learn from it and use that knowledge to improve your business
- You’re probably more bothered about it than the customer, most people understand that mistakes happen
- You are not a terrible person, we don’t make mistakes on purpose
- It can be sorted, it doesn’t have to be a huge deal if dealt with appropriately
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So I hope you feel much clearer on what you will do should a mistake happen and as I said above, if you don’t already have an emergency action plan, put one together now!
This will depend on your personal circumstances and type of business so if you need any help with this please reach out!
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