When Mistakes Happen.


mistakes will happen

This contributor post was written by Tiffany Han.

I recently made a mistake.

{Are you still with me? Of course you are! We ALL make mistakes.}

Every month, on the 5th, I ship my Love Letters project. Last month, I realized on Saturday, February 23 that I had failed to ship one of my orders.

Big oops. I felt terrible. But I still acted.

Rather than let myself get paralyzed by the gaffe, I sent an email to the customer right away letting her know what happened and what I intended to do to remedy it.

Here’s the email:


Here’s why it worked:

1. Admit the mistake. Immediately.
I 100% admitted what happened and apologized. Start with an apology and an explanation. Short and sweet. No excuses. Just the truth. (Note: you can explain without over-explaining.)

2. Fix it.
What is your solution to the problem? Note that I didn’t offer choices – I decided what the best solution would be and went with it, explaining to the customer what I was going to do to rectify the situation.

3. Make it right.
Payment refunded, no questions asked. Upgraded shipping, no questions asked. When you are running damage control, be as preemptive as possible in your solutions building.

4. Examine the system.
When a mistake is made, you must be willing to look into what systems (or lack thereof) caused it to happen in the first place. I didn’t have a good orders tracking system in place, hence, the oversight. By examining the root of the mistake, you can take steps to ensure that it doesn’t happen again.

Moral and outcome: I sent the email, and shipped the package on Monday as promised. I heard from my customer on Monday night with the email: “Thanks Tiffany. You rock!”

You can’t always control your customers’ reactions when things go wrong, but by having plans in place for how to handle them when they do, you can be sure that you, as a creative business owner, are showing up in integrity and handling things the way they need to be handled.

Any mistake stories to share? Do you have any creative “make it right” strategies that have worked for you in your business?

Tiffany Han, CPCC is a life & business coach for highly-creative people who arent living the highly-creative lives they want. Just yet. With provocative questions & hard-edged encouragement, Tiffany helps skittish someday-ers become fiercely focused creators “” and proves that dreams do come true. But only when you demand it.

15 comments | Click here to reply

When Mistakes Happen.: This contributor post was written by Tiffany Han. I recently made a… http://t.co/Nx1MR5W9vg

Brittni Mehlhoff (@papernstitch) | March 5th, 2013 at 11:01 am

I have a new post up on @papernstitch all about making mistakes! Eek! (Once. I made a mistake ONCE.) http://t.co/UOA72XG3Lk

Tiffany Han (@thetiffanyhan) | March 5th, 2013 at 11:50 am

YES, love this. I do all of the above- although I do need to follow the last step better and immediately analyze my system to prevent future mistakes. To make myself feel less horrible about mistakes I console myself with the fact that as businesswoman/men and creatives we’re seriously not trying hard enough if we’re not making plenty of mistakes. If you’re working your ass off day in/out you’ll be making lots of ’em!

Thanks for this post, it’s a great reminder and makes me feel better about today’s minor mistakes already…
Van recently posted..Antique Mall Booth DIY: Chalkboard Sign Revamp + Thoughts

Van | March 5th, 2013 at 2:11 pm

I always love how the realities of business and creative projects are brought up here. This post sounds like just the thing to keep me level headed the next time I have to pick up after my own mistakes. Thanks Tiffany!
Anna Simmonds recently posted..Moving and other March adventures

Anna Simmonds | March 5th, 2013 at 2:35 pm

Currently dealing with an order of mine gone wrong where the business would do well to read this: http://t.co/BGz9rjC0Yx

@redambition | March 5th, 2013 at 5:34 pm

Hey, mistakes happen! http://t.co/gGl066Nvsb

IndieMade (@IndieMade) | March 5th, 2013 at 8:45 pm

Yes mistakes happen and I generally admit it ASAP before the person impacted get to know.

Lovely Post.

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janika | March 6th, 2013 at 11:48 am

MISTAKES HAPPEN. I once worked for a company that had people completely terrified to screw up. Any time anyone made an error they were called out on it and management made a huge deal about it. It wasn’t productive, it didn’t do anything to decrease the likelihood of similar errors happening in the future, and it made for an awful work environment.

Things are going to go wrong. We’re not perfect. It’s how we handle the problems that matter.
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Melanie | March 6th, 2013 at 4:44 pm

Yikes! What an uncomfy work environment Mel! Glad you don’t work there anymore.

papernstitch | March 6th, 2013 at 9:43 pm

Love this! This is so helpful! This kind of quick, clear and thoughtful response to a mistake is exactly the type of thing that makes me (and others I assume) respect and believe in a business (especially a small business). Thanks for sharing Tiff!
Mere // Not Merely Living recently posted..Currently Coveting in March

Mere // Not Merely Living | March 7th, 2013 at 2:39 pm

What to do when you make a mistake with a customer order. http://t.co/ehwDbUWUtO

Laura C. George (@Laura_C_George) | March 7th, 2013 at 7:47 pm

Great advice. It’s always a good policy being transparent and admin to have done a mistake. I use it for my business and half of the times, the customers are impressed so they continue to come back.
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Claudio Carnino | March 14th, 2013 at 5:43 pm

When #Mistakes Happen http://t.co/w9hhtSyavG

@ccarnino | March 15th, 2013 at 5:06 pm

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