How to Create Opportunity One Mishap At A Time

Image courtesy of tracy ducasse's photostream

Image courtesy of tracy ducasse’s photostream

From simple tasks that happen daily like responding to email to more complex projects like managing the workflow of a network wide social media initiative involving 750 locations, the goal is to stay on task, on time and on budget. But what happens if something goes wrong? Has a plan been devised to deal with potential mishaps or are they handled case-by-case? These are the types of things that companies should be proactive about when embarking on new projects.

Most of us are approaching our careers to execute projects to perfection. Is that a lofty goal? Not necessarily. Is it realistic? Perhaps not. Not all the time, at least. Nonetheless we go to work each day striving to be better than we were the day before. Some call that professional growth, some call it professional development. Regardless, mastery can be achieved through hardships. Learning comes from experiences – “turning lemons into lemonade” may be the best way to grow professionally.

Here are three ways to create opportunity from near disaster:

•    Measure Twice, Cut Once.

The premise of this old saying can be applied to many scenarios in life. Literally, it works particularly well when applied to projects involving precision but the message behind the saying is more meaningful.

This old tradesman’s saying is as true today as it was 100 years ago. You can never be too cautious when working with a potential customer. If you can help it, try to be as calculated as possible. Know your audience by doing your homework on them, their industry and their competition. Don’t just leave it up to dumb luck to land a first order. Will it to happen by being prepared!

•    Put on A Fireman’s Hat.

Putting out fires, as they’re called, is an art form. It’s a learned skill that is an essential in everyone’s tool chest. Inevitably an angry customer will call that is unhappy with their order. There’s nowhere to run and hide; you’ve got the face this one head on? What would you say? How would you react?

The best thing may be to let the customer vent. Sometimes that’s all that’s needed – to let out frustration. Other times you just have to take blame, even when it’s not your fault or if it’s your fault but indirectly. Taking Ownership of a mistake can take away ammunition your customer had, and may even leave them dumbfounded. You never know what might come of putting out a fire the right way. You may just end up with a customer that’s more loyal than ever!

•    Know Your Dollars and Cents.

There will be a point when you have to put your money where your mouth is. Mistakes may be so great that they require a complete reproduction of a project. It won’t be cheap, and your customer may be expecting if things went bad enough. Doing what’s right for your customer is your next plan of action but how will you pay for it? The reproduction will cost $2,000 but you only have authority to spend $1,000. Going to your customer to ask for financial assistance isn’t an option – heck, they don’t even want to pay for the first job.

Start with your vendor partner. If they value your business they’ll do whatever they can to get you out of a bind. If that’s not an option then it’s going to come out of your pocket or your supervisor will need to approve the fix. Either way, making your customer happy is the top priority considering your overall goal is customer retention!

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