What to do when things get messy

- October 21, 2019 2 MIN READ

Try as hard as you may to run a smooth, efficient little ship, sometimes the planets don’t align. It’s how we handle these occasional wrinkles that’s important.

The term ‘service recovery paradox’ was coined a quarter of a century ago by Professors Michael McCollough and Sundar Bharadwaj from the American Marketing Association.

It describes a situation in which you think more highly of a company after they’ve made and corrected a problem than how you’d think of them if they hadn’t screwed up in the first place.

Yes, you heard that right: customers can think more highly of you if you make a mistake and fix it brilliantly than if you didn’t make any mistakes at all.

Hmmm. Tempting isn’t it?

Now before you rush off making mistakes as a growth strategy, I should tell you there’s a catch. It’s how you acknowledge, fix and communicate that’s the bit you have to get right. Really get right.

In your solo business you’re going to mess up at some point and it may not be with customers, it may involve suppliers, or those on your team. Frankly it may be anyone, anywhere, any time.

The key thing is to speak up fast, talk honestly and openly and to balance the mistake with your best plans to rectify.

If part of this involves speaking to unhappy customers, my advice is to ‘respond, not react’.

Do this by firstly listening fully to their grievances, take notes and avoid the temptation to interrupt and say your piece. Once they’ve had their say, thank them and assure them you’ll respond speedily.

When you get back in touch (and you absolutely must!) you’ll be addressing each of their concerns with the heat out of the situation and the two of you can have the rectifying conversation in a more calm and considered atmosphere.

Hiding under the desk, ignoring calls and generally going AWOL is never the way to behave.

While I can’t tell you who said it, these fine words work for me:

‘When things seem like they’re falling apart, they might actually be falling into place.’

Successful soloists take mistakes on the chin. Acknowledge, learn, rectify and get back to work.

As the quote suggests, sometimes, when everything feels like a world of chaos, it may be about to take on a stronger, better shape.

If you’ve experiences to share, I’d love to hear them in the comments.

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  • Andrew Caska

    Caska IP Patent Attorneys

    'Flying Solo opened up so many doors for us - I honestly don't know where I'd be without it"