A client that went pear shaped

July 30th, 2012

As much as we always try & get things right as business owners, sometimes things can go horribly pear shaped & it’s a case of making sure we fix the situation first & foremost. As LV Martin used to say ‘it’s the putting right that counts’.

Recently I heard of a situation where a service was delivered to the client of a Hawkes Bay business didn’t quite hit the mark. It was no fault of the business concerned & was caused by circumstances outside of their control. When contacted by their client they made sure the issue was immediately fixed and they communicated in an open & frank manner. There was no thought of trying to ‘sweep it under the table’ or apportion blame anywhere else – they just fronted up & dealt with it.

Sometimes as business owners there can be the temptation to bury the head in the sand & hope the issue goes away. Well guess what – it invariably never does, & what may have been able to be nipped in the bud becomes a bigger issue requiring a bigger response.

So if an event occurs I think there are two things you need to consider?

1.    What is my risk exposure
2.    How do I fix it

Considering your risk is just good practice. It doesn’t mean that you try & shirk you’re responsibility, but if you are a director of the company you need to manage risk in an appropriate manner.

The next part is ‘the putting right that counts’. This can be in two distinct areas. The first is for your customer. How can you right the wrong, give them what they should have got in the first instance & make them want to continue to do business with you.

The second area is making sure that the event doesn’t occur again. Sometimes if someone makes a mistake parties start to look to apportion blame & a whole lot of ar%$ covering goes on. This doesn’t help anyone & certainly doesn’t help with making sure the same error doesn’t occur again.

So as you investigate what was behind that not so good service keep an open mind. Don’t make a whole lot of assumptions but gather all the relevant information from your team. However if you run an oppressive work place, don’t encourage debate and always look for blame as opposed to answers then don’t expect too much help in solving the issue.

Remember sometimes mistakes do occur so be prepared to accept that & do everything you can to minimise that risk & make sure they don’t happen a second time. The more time you can spend on planning & prevention the less likely those mistakes will occur. The more structure you have, the more checks & balances that are in place the better the risk management will be.

Whatever you do though, remember always be prepared to front up to issues & deal with them as quickly as you can. Sometimes that seems the hardest thing in the world to do, but if you can do that across your business then the pain becomes a whole lot more manageable.

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