Failure probably sounds like an odd topic for a blog post, particularly for the very first blog post! No one likes to talk about their failures, and businesses in particular go to a lot of trouble to keep them hidden, out of fear of tarnishing their brand reputation. But learning to fail well is crucial to the success of any small business.
No one sets out to fail, but every business will inevitably encounter a situation in which they do. As much as we at ZOOM! want to succeed – and succeed greatly – with our home-cleaning customers in Surrey and Langley, sometimes, for various reasons, we fail. And let’s not confuse failure with making a mistake. A mistake is usually a minor incident that can be corrected, like, for example, forgetting to clean a countertop. Mistakes are opportunities to shower a customer with extra care and attention, and demonstrate how much they mean to us. A failure is a complete breakdown in the relationship, where it becomes apparent that we will not meet the expectations of the customer regardless of what we do.
We recently had a failure of this kind at a home we were cleaning in South Surrey. The customer was insistent that we use a piece of her equipment, despite my reservations. We like to use ZOOM! cleaning equipment and supplies, as our team members know how they work and what they do. But, more importantly, we like to make our customers happy, so we agreed to use her device. And, the inevitable happened. The customer was not happy with the job. A mistake! We sent a team member back to correct the situation at no cost, with our equipment, and the customer was happy. Hooray! But on the next visit, the customer was again insistent that we use her device. At the end of the job the customer called, almost in tears, about the poor job the team members had done, and demanded a discount.
I was unable to reach her for several days, which gave me ample time to consider my options. I had left a pleasant, earnest voicemail expressing my regrets, but was not looking forward to talking with her in person. I feared getting an earful when I finally connected with her. I had also dropped a hand-written greeting card in the mail, acknowledging that we had not met her expectations, without apportioning blame or trotting out excuses, and expressing my regret at losing a good customer.
Much to my delight, when we finally connected she was gracious and accommodating. I offered a discount I thought was fair which she accepted without hesitation. We chatted amicably about life, family and cleaning, and parted ways on good terms. Mission accomplished.
I don’t know if I’ll ever hear from her again, but that’s not the point. What’s important is that she was left with a positive impression about ZOOM! home cleaning, even in the middle of a negative experience. That’s what we call a successful failure. That’s standing behind our promise. That’s the Company that Cares™.