Mistakes are Opportunities | Erica + Jon Photography

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We're Erica + Jon, professional photographers, Mr + Mrs and Mom + Dad. We like to share insights into our industry, behind the scenes and stories about our life and chips + salsa obsession.

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Mistakes are Opportunities

We’ve worked hard to create a great client experience. We have systems and processes in place to make sure we do everything we can to provide a consistent, high level of service for each and every one of our clients. You see, we realized pretty early on that without clients that loved us, our best intentions would fall flat on their face. In our business, it’s all about serving your clients well and leaving them with an experience that compels them to walk away raving about working with us.

But even the best systems and processes sometimes fail and the best intentions fall short.

So what do you do when that happens? How do you recover and still have clients who walk away raving about you? Is it even possible?

We’d say, YES! It’s absolutely possible and often times creates an opportunity for an even deeper, more authentic experience with your client if you handle it well. 

Take a couple of our recent experiences for example.

Last week, our family of four went to two different restaurants. Both restaurants made mistakes, but only one used the mistake as an opportunity to guarantee we will come back over and over again.

It was a sunny January day in Phoenix which means highs near 70 and perfect weather for eating outside. It’s the time of year we live for in Arizona! So we picked a restaurant where we could eat outside and enjoy the beautiful day. As the waiter brought our drinks to the table, he lost control of the serving tray and dropped a glass full of water directly onto our son Brody’s head. He was soaked from head to toe in water, had his head thumped by a heavy glass, and had water spilled all over the collectible trading cards he had with him. The waiter was of course incredibly apologetic, assured us he’d take care of things and brought out a table cloth for Brody to use as a blanket if he needed it. Afterward, the rest of our experience was decent service and a great meal. When the check came, we partially expected some sort of consolation from our waiter for the incident and we were honestly a little disappointed that there was no mention of it and no additional considerations from the restaurant. But maybe that’s because we were comparing it with a separate experience just days before…

After the craziness and travel of the holidays, we came home wanting a good, fresh meal but had nothing in the house. Since it was later in the day already, we decided to go out to a nice dinner at Firebird’s Steakhouse. Now to really understand this story, you need to understand something about Erica and steak. She loves it! BUT, she’ll order a steak cooked well-done every-single-time. So she ordered her steak, asked for it cooked well-done and was a little bummed when she cut into it cooked to medium at best. When our waitress returned we made her aware of the situation and she hurried off with the dish to make it right. In the process, we had a visit from the Manager. He wanted to come by and apologize for the mistake and offered additional appetizers or a salad for Erica while she waited. When her plate returned with the steak cooked to temperature, the Manager and waitress stood tableside while Erica cut into it to make sure it was cooked to her liking. Her plate even had a fresh serving of sides on it – not just the previous sides kept warm. We were even offered dessert on the house before we left since we hadn’t taken them up on the additional appetizer or salad! That was an experience that made us want to come back.

So you can imagine us laughing a little bit to ourselves that the red carpet was rolled out by Firebird’s over a steak that wasn’t cooked to order, but little was done when a heavy glass of water was dropped on our son’s head and soaked him to the bone. 

When you go to a restaurant, you expect great food and a great experience. In our experiences, both restaurants made a mistake (one admittedly a little worse than the other), but only one left us feeling like they did everything they could and more to make it right. To be clear, the restaurant that dropped the glass on Brody’s head wasn’t exactly a cut-rate establishment either. 

It came down to a difference in values and intentionality. Firebird’s showed us that they valued us as customers. They had predetermined intentions to make the dining experience top-notch. And knowing that even with the best intentions mistakes still happen, they were intentional about making it right and then some. 

We didn’t leave Firedbird’s talking about the kitchen mix up. We left talking about how valued we felt as customers and how we couldn’t wait to go back.

So, you decide….can you recover from a mistake and turn a client experience that has taken a turn for the worse into an experience that leaves them raving about you?

It all comes down to whether or not you choose to take advantage of the opportunity of a less ideal situation to create something memorable for your client. 

How can you go out of your way to show your client that despite the unfortunate situation, your goal is to serve them well?

Our pastor recently spoke about turning Moments into Memories. It got us thinking to ourselves, “How can we apply that to our business?”

In our opinion, comedian Tina Fey sums it up best:

“There are no mistakes, only opportunities” – Tina Fey, Bossypants

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