Last Friday my dog groomer, Danielle, didn’t show up.
Danielle is a peach. Diego and I are both crazy about her, and we have a standing appointment every other Friday. So when she didn’t show, I wasn’t aggravated. I was concerned. She’s never done anything like that before. And I thought maybe something had happened to her.
I gave it a few hours, and then I sent her a text:
We missed you today. Is everything OK?
And within moments, I got this:
OMG!! I didn’t write your name down! I can make it up to you tomorrow morning. I’m so sorry. I had you scheduled all perfectly until my vacation. Please let me come tomorrow for 50% off to make it up to you. I’m so sorry.
Did I mention that I’m crazy about Danielle?
And if you know anything about me AT ALL, you know I don’t go for discounts as a way to run a business. Sh*& happens. And we can’t give away the store every time it does, or we’ll be broke.
Now, I know that not every client you have will feel the way I do (and you’ll have some that are downright opportunistic about your mistakes). Nonetheless, Danielle could have left it at, “Please let me make it up to you tomorrow morning. I’ll be there first thing,” and most of her clients would have been satisfied when she arrived promptly and gave great service.
Remember this: Most people just want to be heard. (Even angry people.) Most people want to be recognized. And most people are pleasantly surprised – and wonderfully fulfilled – by an authentic apology.
So here’s how I replied to Danielle:
OMG. No discounts. There’s no such thing as a Golden Retriever bath emergency. I’ll see you tomorrow. No discounts, ever!
And she said:
LOL. I just read your article about discounts, too. (Click here if you want to read that article, too.)
THIS IS THE MOMENT, MY FRIENDS.
This moment, when you want to crawl into a hole because you’ve made a mistake.
This moment, when you are afraid to respond to your client because the confrontation will be so uncomfortable.
This moment, when you worry that a relationship is lost.
This moment, when you are so mad at yourself or your employees or some external force that kept you from delivering on your promise…
THIS IS THE MOMENT TO ENGINEER A TOUCH POINT.
This is the moment that you create a NEXT moment that’s so extraordinary, it will make your customer say: “I can’t believe she just did that.”
So, the next day, Danielle was here at 9:00 a.m., just like she promised, smiling, and high-energy, and apologetic, and responsible. All of which was to be expected. And when she left, Diego looked handsome and smelled great, and he pranced around in his new bandana, and all was right with the world. All of which was to be expected.
It was a good save on Danielle’s part. And I forgot about the incident entirely.
But Danielle didn’t. It bothered her. Because she’s good at what she does. And she’s trying to build a business with new clientele every day.
So she shocked the sh*& out of me two days later, when I checked my mailbox and found the beautiful card you see at the top of this post, printed on gorgeous textured matte card stock.
That’s a photo of Daniel and Diego from the other day. She took a selfie in her wash van before she left!! Because she knew she would turn this moment into something so much more.
And on the back of the card? She wrote this:
Julia & Diego:
I truly appreciate your kindness and I want you to know that your generosity and flexibility has not gone unnoticed. You are absolutely wonderful! Thanks for being so cool always. I appreciate you!
Like a boss.
She could have let the moment pass.
She used the moment to get better at what she does – right in front of her customer.
She used the moment to be completely vulnerable, and 100% responsible.
She used that uncomfortable moment in a brilliant way: to show me that we are in a relationship. To tell me that she appreciated how I behaved. To turn away from the mistake, and toward what works well between us. To take things to another level.
And here’s the best part. This gesture — authentic and meaningful and absolutely unexpected — was WAY better than a discount. For both of us.
There are certain moments in every business cycle that are ripe for creating beautiful touch points, and I talk about this often. Click here to see a full sales cycle and how opportunities for touch points present themselves at every turn. Click here to see how something as simple as waving can turn a customer into a stark, raving fan.
While there may be scores of moments in your business process that get your customers to sit up and take notice, none of them is as powerful as the “owning it” moment. When you can turn a snafu into an “I love you,” you’ve created magic.
Those are the moments that turn customers into fans. They’re the moments that turn customers into repeat customers and referral fountains. They’re the moments that build brand legends.
So the next time you make a mistake, don’t think about how to cover it up. Think about how to use it to demonstrate the very best of you and your business. Show your customer how you handle adversity. Show them what you’re made of when things don’t go exactly as planned. And tell them what you love about them and what they mean to you.
And build this practice into your business — the practice of looking at every mistake or dark moment as an opportunity to grow… and to grow your relationships.
And before long, you’ll find that you’re consistently making your customers say, “I can’t believe she just did that.”
Entrepreneurs and small business owners create amazing touch points for their businesses in my online program, Unforgettable U. I’ve got a free webinar this week that talks all about it. You can register here.
Have you turned a mistake into an opportunity? A dark moment into a bright spot in a relationship? Share with me in the comments below.