What You Can Do When Customers Make Mistakes

This morning I received a buzz on my phone from my customer in Etsy. When I looked at the preview message, I spotted the word “mistake” and I jumped up from bed instantly. I always get rather nervous when it comes to this because I always do my best to not upset my customers in any ways.

Upon reading the messages, the customer said it was her fault not to notice the mistake and she said she needed to re-order the item, which is a self-inking rubber stamp. I traced back her original order and indeed there was a mistake on the content. It was also my fault for not noticing.

My normal practice is just to copy the content and paste it into the artwork. I will not re-type the content for fear of making the mistake especially when it comes to foreign addresses or business names. Some people do misspell or not use proper spelling for their business name. It’s their branding and it’s not my place to question this. Then I’ll come up with the artwork that I would send it to them to review and approve. I will also remind them with the statement, “Attached is the artwork for your approval. Once you confirm the details are correct, I’ll proceed to make the stamp.”

The approval and confirmation on the content by the customers tells me that I have the green light to proceed with the artworks they approve and I’m not allowed to change anything after that. If I do, I would need to inform them and get their approval again. But in this case, we both overlooked the mistake. Although she was being reasonable and took the responsibility for the mistake, I felt I should share her responsibility too. So, I told her that I’ll correct the mistake with no charge but she would cover for the shipping cost.

I would always think of this as costs of doing business and I have already put aside a budget just for this. I learned this from my experience with Starbucks. I know they don’t make the best coffee in the world but I remain loyal to them because of their customer service.

Once, I was attending a seminar with a friend. I went to Starbucks with him to grab a Frappe during break. The moment I had that Frappe in my hand, I tripped and spilled the entire cup on the floor, making a big mess. The barista’s first question was, “Miss, what did you order?” I was stunned and I mumbled, “Espresso Frappe.” Then as I was about to pick up the spilled cup, another barista appeared with a mop in his hand and stopped me, “Ma’am, don’t worry about this.” When the new drinks was done, I took out cash and was ready to pay when the barista smiled and told me it was on the house. I felt my “Thank you” wasn’t inadequate so I wrote an appreciation letter to Starbucks Malaysia HQ office to praise the baristas at that branch.

When I started my online business last year, I told myself I want my customers to feel what I felt. I don’t want my customers to feel bad or guilty for the mistake they make and I don’t want them to feel angry or too upset with the mistake I make. By sharing the responsibility for the mistake they make and willing to replace the products with lesser or no additional cost will give them a huge sense of relief. They’re already feeling awful, there’s no need to make them feel worse by incurring additional costs. As for the mistakes that I do make, no doubt it might upset them but I want them to  know that they can rely on me to correct the mistakes at no cost to them.

With that, I’m more than happy to take the ownership of the mistakes I make and share responsibility with my customers to ensure everything is running smoothly.