Work toward righting wrongs and building trust


Todd Hinson


Business Columnist

Monday, April 16, 2018

It’s inevitable — no matter how much of a perfectionist you are at your job or in your personal life, at some point, you are going to make a mistake. Probably even a big one.

More important than the mistake you make is how you handle the situation that mistake creates.

There are many ways a project or sale can go off the rails: Miscommunication between a sales rep and a customer. Incorrect pricing. Missing a deadline. Changes in the project specs that aren’t passed on. The list goes on.

When any of these happen, we can get mad, or we can measure the mistake or missed sale rate, track the causes, and focus on processes and prevention so that results improve. The best outcome? Everyone has a better experience – you, your team and your customers.

Stuff happens.

I recently heard Stephen M. R. Covey talk about trust and the impact trust has on all of our personal and professional interactions. In short, he shared that the greater the trust, the better the results. Sounds easy, yet some of the most well-intentioned among us can struggle with the two most powerful words in trust-building: “I’m sorry.”

One of the behaviors Covey outlines in The Speed of Trust that builds and restores relationship trust is to “right wrongs.” Covey says that “it is more than simply apologizing; it’s also making restitution. It’s doing what you can to correct the mistake ... and then a little more.”

While my goal is to not make mistakes, when they do happen, I work hard as a business owner to first make it right. This can include sitting down with a customer to show them how we handle errors and steps we take so the same errors don’t occur again. We also explain what happened and why to the customer, and work to find a solution to the issue.

These “righting wrongs” — accepting responsibility and showing how seriously we are committed to their success – often turns a disappointed customer into a raving fan.

Every challenge on a project or in a sales interaction is an opportunity to strengthen a relationship if handled honestly and transparently. It sets the tone for your team members as well. Covey stresses the importance to resist the temptation to “spin,” cover up or justify mistakes. They are credibility- and trust-busters, doing far more harm than the original error.

When all is said and done, people deal with people ... especially people they trust.

Todd Hinson is co-owner of Allegra Design Marketing Print in Rocky Mount.