Photo by PashaIgnatov/iStock / Getty Images
Photo by PashaIgnatov/iStock / Getty Images

I have a confession, I make mistakes. I am human. I try to remind my clients they are human too - they work with new technologies, they are learning, mistakes will happen. I’ve learned more from my mistakes than from my successes.  My customers often get nervous when setting up their very first email template in Salesforce.  They want to be sure it looks right and has everything they need.  They worry they will send to the wrong people, or send too soon.  But knowing how to recover from a mistake is one of the most important things a business can do to retain trust amongst their customers.  

My favorite diagraming tool ever ever recovered from an Oops! this week (Lucidchart is the most amazing diagraming tool I have ever used, you should use it, and ditch “he who must not be named” but it starts with a V).  

I received an email from them, which was strange since I had not taken an action recently that would have caused an email to fire.  So I emailed the sender, mostly because I wanted to be sure everything was okay, just in case - as a person in IT, I was pretty sure this was a test that had gone wrong, there were geeky variable names with $ signs in it (it happens. to everyone.).

The next day I got another email, explaining the situation, apologizing, and from a person that had VP in their title - I mean - an important person from their team was personally reaching out to say “Its cool, we’re sorry, forgive us, what do you need to know?”.  Which they did not have to do, they could have taken the path many people/companies take, ignore it and hope it goes away.  Lucidchart has won my trust even more as an organization, because they took the route of transparency rather than avoid the situation - they got me to say Oh YEAH!!!

So why wait until you make a mistake to have to figure out what to do next? Here’s a few tips on planning for when that day comes. . . because it probably will.

  1. Admit & Explain: Never run away from the mistake.  If its an ongoing situation, that has not yet been fixed, explain to your customers the situation and what steps you are taking to resolve it, and what they can expect next.
  2. Anticipate & Ask: Always give space for your customers to ask questions - in fact, put yourself in their shoes and anticipate what questions they might have; put together a Frequently Asked Questions list if its a big deal and you think many people might have the same questions about this issue.  Generally speaking, its cheaper to keep your customers than it is to find new ones, so think of ways to maintain trust and promise them you want to keep their trust - tell them how it might be prevented in the future.
  3. Apologize: Finally, when the problem is resolved, ask your customers for their understanding and forgiveness. Its so infuriating (strong word, I know) for me, as a customer when I pay for a good or service, and it doesn’t go the way I wanted/planned, and the person I am giving my money to - doesn’t make it right - or say sorry.  Its amazing how disarming an apology is when it’s given genuinely. 

My bottomline advice for companies who make a mistake: Be Human, Own Up to It, Say Sorry  - - - and then forgive yourself (and the people involved).


For any of my customers who have not yet sent their first email template, and you want to know how to test that out first, check out the Knowledge Article: Send Test Email and Verify Merge Fields.

Also, for those of you who don’t know about Lucidchart - YOU SHOULD CHECK IT OUT, LIKE YEARS AGO! Do you need to draw a flow diagram (or make a screen mock up) and have OTHER people check it out? No more worries about versions. . . Don’t want to worry if the person you are sending it to has the needed software. . . no more 'saving as'. . . You can have your collaborators comment right on the document - and even share access with other users to help you build out that diagram! BOOM! Seriously, you’ve been waiting for this - if you didn’t know about it already, I am so sorry. But now you know, so go use it - you can even use it FAAA FREEEEE!!!!  And they sure do know about customer service! :D