#12 of 12 Types of Purple Goldfish (Handling Mistakes) – Chapter 24

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[We are sharing excerpts as we work towards completing the manuscript for ‘What’s Your Purple Goldfish?’. Today is Chapter 24, the twelfth of 12 different types of Purple Goldfish]

Handling Ooops

The last type of purple goldfish will seem like an odd addition to the list. In business we are generally conditioned to never admit failure. Let’s face it… we all make mistakes. How you deal with them is the real question. It’s important to not only correct the problem, but to go above and beyond to make things right.

The idea of proactively admitting to mistakes is totally unexpected. Admit your wrongdoing, ask the customer what they’d like as amends and then always exceed their request. This is brilliant on so many levels. First is Dale Carnegie-esque . . . admit when your wrong and do it emphatically. It takes the steam out of a complaint. Second is involving the customer to be part of the solution. Let them be judge and jury. This speaks volumes about your willingness to make things right. Lastly you exceed the proposed solution. Within reason you take the solution and notch it up one or two levels. This gets back to the idea of being totally unexpected.

Let’s look at a trifecta of examples:

When you are wrong . . .

nurse next door#438 in the Purple Goldfish Project comes from the book ‘Customer Love’:

“Humble Pie. When this Canadian home health care service provider stumbles . . . they deliver a fresh baked apple pie and a note apologizing for poor customer service. Each year they spend about $1,500 on pies, but they estimate it saves about $100,000 in business going elsewhere. That sounds like pretty strong ROI as over 70% of customers that take their business elsewhere do so because of poor customer service.”

Marketing Lagniappe Takeaway: When your wrong . . . admit it and make amends quickly.

A $1.6 million dollar oops from 6pm.com

I came across a post on Inside Zappos via a tweet by ‘The Experience Factor’ @jenkuhnpr. This ‘oops’ makes the Purple Goldfish Project at #407

“Hey everyone – As many of you may know (and I’m sure a lot of you do not), 6pm.com is our sister site. 6pm.com is where brandaholics go for their guilt free daily fix of the brands they crave. Every day, the site highlights discounts on products ranging up to 70% off. Well, this morning, we made a big mistake in our pricing engine that capped everything on the site at $49.95. The mistake started at midnight and went until around 6:00am pst. When we figured out the mistake was happening, we had to shut down the site for a bit until we got the pricing problem fixed.

While we’re sure this was a great deal for customers, it was inadvertent, and we took a big loss (over $1.6 million – ouch) selling so many items so far under cost. However, it was our mistake. We will be honoring all purchases that took place on 6pm.com during our mess up. We apologize to anyone that was confused and/or frustrated during out little hiccup and thank you all for being such great customers. We hope you continue to Shop. Save. Smile. at 6pm.com.

Nice job by 6pm.com to wear the hat and take their medicine. The willingness to honor to honor those discounted sales is admirable and more importantly a brand defining moment.

I love it when the folks from the C-Suite get down in the trenches. Zappos CEO Tony Hsieh (Shay) is never afraid to address an issue. Here is his update to the original blogpost:

“We have a pricing engine that runs and sets prices according to the rules it is given by business owners. Unfortunately, the way to input new rules into the current version of our pricing engine requires near-programmer skills to manipulate, and a few symbols were missed in the coding of a new rule, which resulted in items that were sold exclusively on 6pm.com to have a maximum price of $49.95. (Items that are sold on both 6pm.com and Zappos.com were not affected.)

We already had planned on improving our internal pricing engine so that it will have a much easier-to-use interface for our business owners. We are also planning on adding additional checks and balances to hopefully prevent this type of thing from happening again.

To those of you asking if anybody was fired, the answer is no, nobody was fired – this was a learning experience for all of us. Even though our terms and conditions state that we do not need to fulfill orders that are placed due to pricing mistakes, and even though this mistake cost us over

$1.6 million, we felt that the right thing to do for our customers was to eat the loss and fulfill all the orders that had been placed before we discovered the problem.

PS: To put an end to any further speculation about my tweet , I will also confirm that I did not, in fact, eat any ice cream on Sunday night.”

[Make your ice cream a triple scoop Tony. Well deserved on how you handled this situation, plus . . . you could use it. You look like you need to run around the shower just to get wet]

Making good in response to the Snowpocalypse

#715 in the Purple Goldfish Project is taken from a post by Axel Murillo of Worldwide Business Research USA LLC:

In Axel’s words:

Like one of tens of thousands of people traveling this past holiday season, I had booked a JetBlue flight for the day after Christmas to spend quality time with friends and loved ones. However, Mother Nature had other plans. A storm that quickly produced between 12 and 32 inches of snow fell on many areas of the North East that eventually caused the cancellation of some 10,000 flights. It certainly earned its titles as the “Snowpocalypse,” or “Snowmaggeddon” of 2010.

[Editors Note: Axel’s flight was canceled and rescheduled a total of 4 times. Each of his reschedules were done via Twitter]

My trip to Austin eventually went off without too many more delays, once again letting me take for granted things like roomier leather seats on coach, and DirecTV for everyone. Since I pretty much only fly JetBlue these days, I tend to forget that other airlines don’t offer what I’ve come to think of as common sense expectations.

A few days after my return to New York, along with all other passengers affected by the “Snowpocalypse,” I received an email from Robin Hayes, Chief Commercial Officer for JetBlue Airways that partly read:

jetblue trueblue“As a token of our appreciation for your patience during last week’s snowstorm when we canceled your flight, please accept 10,000 TrueBlue points which you can apply toward future travel to any JetBlue destination.”

If I add those to my existing points, I got a free round trip ticket to Austin anytime! I’m more than satisfied; I am fairly star-struck by this rock-star quality treatment! By any conventional means, JetBlue has no responsibility to provide such perks to assuage climate disruptions. But the fact is that they did; that’s what I call a phenomenal customer experience.

Marketing Lagniappe Takeaway: Be proactive when faced with service disruption. Great job by JetBlue to offer the comp True Blue points.

[Next Up is Chapter 25, a look at ‘Technology’ and its role in providing a little extra]

Today’s Lagniappe (a little something extra for good measure) – Invest into customer experience. Let repeat customers drive ‘word of mouth’. A great talk by Tony Hsieh:

Republished with author's permission from original post.

Stan Phelps
Stan Phelps is the Chief Measurement Officer at 9 INCH marketing. 9 INCH helps organizations develop custom solutions around both customer and employee experience. Stan believes the 'longest and hardest nine inches' in marketing is the distance between the brain and the heart of your customer. He is the author of Purple Goldfish, Green Goldfish and Golden Goldfish.

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