Mistakes at work are going to happen, and when they do, you can try to run away from them and allow them to hurt your career, OR you can use them to advance your career. In other words, an honest mistake can be a good thing IF you handle it the right way.
When I was working for the Washington Wizards, I had a new VIP account who was taking his daughter to an upcoming game to celebrate her 7th birthday. When he mentioned this to me, I suggested that we have a “Happy Birthday” wish appear on the scoreboard at halftime of the game. We both agreed that she would be excited to see her name up in lights.
I followed my company’s protocol for entering the message into the scoreboard, but the following week, my client emailed me and said he was disappointed that they never saw it.
While it is quite possible that my client and his daughter just missed the message (it would only have been on the screen for 1-2 seconds), I decided to use the mistake as an opportunity to demonstrate how much I cared about him as a person and customer.
So, I got approval from our Vice President to get my client 2 free front-row tickets to another game, and we also allowed my client’s daughter to be an honorary ball-girl for that game, allowing her to hang out on the court with the players for 15 minutes before tip-off.
The day after that game, my client emailed me to thank me and tell me how much he appreciated my gesture. Several weeks later, he also emailed the President of the franchise to tell her how impressed he was with me, and he joked that he was going to “hire me away from them” if the Wizards did not take good care of me. Our President cc’ed me on her email reply and thanked him for the kind words, as she politely told him to stay away from me! It’s not a bad feeling to have 2 very successful people fighting over your services!
In conclusion, an honest mistake can be a GOOD thing if you use it as an opportunity to make a relationship stronger. Rather than trying to run away from the mistake with my client, I looked at it as a way to grow the relationship.
On a side-note, that client’s company tripled their investment with our team the next season, and they spent almost $200,000 on tickets with the Wizards in 2009-2010 alone, which was 10 times as much as what they spent with the team that first year we worked together!
Thanks for reading!
President of Idealize Enterprises
College Speaker and Career Expert for Gen Y