As you build and grow your business, mistakes are going to happen. It’s how you and your organization address that mistake that matters the most.

Give Your Customers What They Want

Netflix made a huge blunder in 2011 when it decided to split its DVD and streaming services into two businesses. This decision was made on the heels of a significant price increase and resulted in the loss of 1 million customers. Netflix was definitely not giving their customers what they wanted and very few companies could survive such a dramatic blunder.

But the company has rebounded in recent years by giving viewer’s what they want–original, commercial-free content. With the successes of Netflix series such as House of Cards and Orange is the New Black, Netflix recently announced strong 2nd Quarter earnings and a subscriber base that has topped 50 million.

Admit Your Mistake

My company had been pursuing UPS as a customer for several years and we finally received word that they were awarding us our first contract. They asked that we send them a signed original copy of the contract for their counter-signature, which we did–by FedEx.

Thankfully we realized our blunder before UPS received the contract and our sales representative reached out and apologized for the blunder. Because we had established a good relationship throughout the sales process, our contact was very understanding, sharing that it happened more times than you would think.

Don’t Make Assumptions

At a recent panel event, Jennifer Bonnet, Community Catalyst at ATDC and Chief Chick of StartupChicks shared the following business blunder from her past:

Jennifer was the CTO of a startup in the 90’s and was meeting with a venture capital firm for the first time. As they convened to a conference room, one of the investors turned to Jennifer and told her how he liked his coffee.

She went and got the investor his coffee, and when she returned the CEO introduced her by her official title–CTO. The investor apologized profusely, but Jennifer was quick to respond saying “I am fine with getting your coffee if you are willing to invest several million dollars with us.”

Jennifer turned what could have been an uncomfortable business blunder into a moment of bonding and humor.

Understand Your Customer’s Space

Years ago, Andrea Lake of MentorMojo was in a meeting between the CEO of the Indianapolis 500 and Donald Trump about creating a strategic partnership between the two organizations. Andrea referred to Indianapolis 500 as NASCAR because she didn’t know they were different organizations. She was quickly made aware of the difference and adjusted her pitch.

Andrea used that blunder as a reminder to herself and team to make sure they know their customer’s space, even if it’s not an area of natural interest to them.

Business blunders are unavoidable. The difference in success and failure lies in how you and your company handle the mistake today and build your business in a way to help avoid them in the future.