It is just not possible in business (or in life) to do things perfectly 100% of the time. I don’t know anyone who does. So how do you handle a huge mistake without losing your following or your audience’s faith in you?
I’ve made mistakes in my business, and one of them happened years ago when I was hosting my first large scale launch with webinars. I had been giving webinars for a while and I always went through a protocol before each webinar to make sure everything was running smoothly. But this one time, just this one time, I got too confident and launched into my webinar without having my audio ON. My audience could see my slides but could hear nothing for the entire hour.
Why this happened isn’t important, but it was a mistake that mortified me and inconvenienced my attendees. They had set aside this time to listen to the information I had for them and I had let them down. I never wanted that to happen again…and it never has.
But, since mistakes DO happen, what do you do about them?
Here are four guidelines for tapping into success by learning from the mistakes you make in your business:
1. Apologize right away. It doesn’t matter if it was your fault, technology, a team member’s fault, or even if the dog ate your script. The best way to make the situation right is to apologize and acknowledge that the customer has had a tough experience and that you sympathize. Even if you don’t know what went wrong to cause the mistake, apologize. When I realized my audio was off for my webinar I was so embarrassed I was shaking! But I put an email out immediately to my list, even though I had no idea why that had happened.
2. Take 100% responsibility. Don’t try to say it was “out of your control” or explain why it happened. Your audience will respect you more if you take full responsibility for the mistake. Studies show that customers are more drawn to you if you are totally transparent with them. The fact that you made a mistake makes you more real and relatable to them. After I sent out my apology email, I had dozens of people I didn’t even know reply back with condolences and understanding. They appreciated me admitting I messed up!
3. Give more back to your audience. It may cost you more time, effort, or money, but you’ll want to over-compensate them for the inconvenience or disappointment this may have caused them. It may cost you more in the short run, but you’ll build customer loyalty in the long run. I ended up hosting several webinars the entire next week so my audience had ample chances to watch it again.
4. Know that this too shall pass. Even if it feels earth-shattering in the moment, it WILL fade over time. Your customers will forgive you if you do the previous three steps, and they will not see it as big a mistake as you do. Learn what you can, grow from it, then move on quickly. After that mistake, I never wanted to host a webinar again, but as I said I hosted several the next week and beyond. I learned a great deal from that experience.
I have found that in building a business, building relationships, or leading a team, perfection is just not possible. But when you can learn from your mistakes they become a catalyst to quantum leaps in personal growth.