by Lori Milner, author, entrepreneur, thought leader and founder of Beyond the Dress
Failure is a natural part of life and the journey to success – whatever that may mean to you. In my workshops on personal branding, I teach people that when you do make a mistake, the first step is to own it and then use that as an opportunity to exceed expectations. Be solutions orientated and always find a way to make a plan. If the situation is out of your control, then manage your client’s expectations and be as transparent as possible. We are human which means we are fallible. People are more forgiving when they are part of the solution and also when you don’t try play the blame game.
I was at a well-known restaurant recently and the service was appalling. Our food took 90 minutes to arrive and clearly my guests and I were quite frustrated. The manager personally came over and apologized and explained there is a staff shortage on that day. This was amplified by continuous power failures in the area. The manager generously covered the entire meal including dessert! Needless to say, we left there feeling very well looked after but the reputation in our minds had not been damaged. If anything, we told people about the story and how impressed we were with how it was managed.
My favourite example of owning your mistakes was demonstrated by KFC in the UK recently. They had taken on a new delivery partner who underestimated the task to get chicken to 900 outlets across the country as a result, they ran out of chicken and had to close their stores for a period of time. Now the way they handled this was just amazing.
The ad, featured in the Friday edition of the paper, included a comic reordering of the brand name’s lettering to spell out “FCK”.
“A chicken restaurant without any chicken. It’s not ideal,” the ad said. “Huge apologies to our customers, especially those who travelled out of their way to find we were closed.”
The advert continued: “It’s been a hell of a week, but we’re making progress, and every day more and more fresh chicken is being delivered to our restaurants. Thank you for bearing with us.”
They used a crisis as an opportunity – by openly owning up to their error, they actually enhanced their brand equity. And had a sense of humour about it!
So just remember, when mistakes do creep up on you, own them. Never play the blame game. Find a solution and use it as an opportunity to show your value and exceed expectations.
Here’s to owning our mistakes.
LORI MILNER is the engaging facilitator, thought leader and mentor known for her insightful approach to being a modern corporate woman. Her brainchild, the successful initiative Beyond the Dress, is the embodiment of her passion to empower women. Beyond the Dress has worked with South Africa’s leading corporates and empowered hundreds of women with valuable insight on how to bridge the gap between work and personal life. Clients include Siemens, Massmart, Alexander Forbes, Life Healthcare Group, RMB Private Bank and Unilever to name a few. Lori has co-authored Own Your Space: The Toolkit for the Working Woman in conjunction with Nadia Bilchik, CNN Editorial Producer. Own Your Space provides practical tools and insights gleaned from workshops held around the world and from interviews with some of South Africa’s most accomplished women to provide you with tried-and-tested techniques, tips and advice to help you boost your career, enhance your confidence and truly own your space on every level. Own Your Space is the ultimate ‘toolkit’ to unleash your true power. It’s for the woman who wants to take her career to new heights and who is ready to fulfil her true potential.
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