3 Steps to Capitalizing on Mistakes: Admit, Act, Access (Raptors & Startups)

Mistakes happen. The question is, when they do, what are you going to do about it?

Customer service skills are crucial for startups.  Whether you’re in validation phase building your base,  beta testing, or are about to hit your one millionth user, your customers matter, and bad days are going to happen. Servers go down, orders go missing, a team member blows it with a client, etc. Whatever type of bad day your startup is having, or mistake you’ve made, the world won’t end.

Here’s a quick three step guide to stepping up on mistakes. Admit. Act. Access.

  1. Admit There’s a Problem

The Raptors whimpered away from the Milwaukee Bucks in one of the most lopsided losses in  NBA Playoff history on April 20 (104-77, Game 3, Round 1 – not that we want to remember).  All-star point guard Kyle Lowry could only be honest in saying “we got our ass bust.”

Sometimes that’s all it takes. Whether it is to a customer, a client, or a team member, they just need to know you know there’s a problem. No excuse, no explanation, just admit there is a problem.

You can handle that right?
Your business won’t close, you wont lose (many) customers.

You won’t.

In fact, Salesforce states that making mistakes can be can be the perfect path to customer loyalty.  But you can’t start the journey if you don’t own the mistake.

2. Take Action to Solve Problem

Social media makes spectacles of companies that don’t own their mistakes fast enough and don’t lay out out appropriate action plans to remedy the problem.

Amy Gallo of the Harvard Business Review article, “You’ve Made a Mistake. Now What?” states, “Focus on the future. How will your misstep be remedied? What will you do differently going forward?”

This is a good reference for how to frame your relationship and what you will do in the future. Action is often demonstrated by learning something from your mistakes you can use to to remedy similar situations that arise.

Referencing the Raptors, DeRozan talks about learning from the teams mistakes in their colossal loss and how they will “use it as motivation… [to] be back and ready for Saturday.”  The Raptors took action and won their next game 87-76 tying the series at two games a piece.

You’re a startup. You’re lean.  What action steps do you have to do to fix your mistake? Move the pieces around, look at your processes. Are you trying to do too much, is someone in the wrong role. Take a look, develop an action plan, communicate it, then rock it.

Make sure you act effectively and fast to show that the problem matters to the stakeholder and that you’re taking steps to fix it.

3.  Be Accessible

While there are different sizes of mistakes, there are few that won’t give you the opportunity to rebuild trust, but that means being accessible. Whether its a follow up email to see if your action steps resolved the issue, supplying your affected customers some type of feedback tool, or being active on social media being accessible is really important.

After the Game 3 lop-side loss, DeRozan pinned his 2010 tweet “Don’t worry, I got us…”

Mistakes happen.  What are you going to do about it?
You got this.

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Further Reading / References:

Demar DeRozan Twitter

Gallo, Amy. You’ve Made a Mistake. Now What? Harvard Business Review.

Grothaus, Michael. United Airlines Has a Social Media Nightmare On Its Hands, Fast Company.

Shukle, Ravi. Why Making Mistakes Is The Perfect Path To Customer Loyalty, Salesforce.


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