Turning Mistakes into Moments to Shine

I’m a measure twice and cut once kind of gal.  But, inevitably, I still make mistakes. In creative business, I’m not sure there’s anything that stings more than making an error with a client. For me, my business is literally my name. It’s who I am, it’s the tangible product of what I design and create. And I truly aim to make each order exquisite and special and important. But, of course, I’m not always perfect. And when I’m not, I need to embrace that.  Not just for my own sanity, but for the sake of my customer as well.In fact, when I make a mistake, I celebrate the opportunity to show what I’m really made of.

Because my response to an error says more about me and my brand than if it had all turned out perfectly. It gives me a chance to shine, showing off all those brand values I treasure. Last year, I shared how a small creative toy company responded to my initial complaint with such sincerity and speed, they won me over for life.  By going beyond my expectations this brand successfully flipped my emotions from so-so to super loyal.  From the business side, that’s also how I approach these situations.

Turning mistakes into everlasting, glowing impressions:

1. Own it.  Sure, there are probably a dozen reasons that contributed to why I goofed, but who cares? It happened, I did it. Customers aren’t interested in sob stories and excuses. Apologize sincerely and get going.

2. Fix it.  Ok, policies are awesome. Sometimes we really need them. But in the case of making a mistake, nothing really matters more than just fixing it. Do what you have to to make the client’s situation whole again.

3. Better It.  The mistake happened. You’ve fixed it (reimbursed, replaced, reworked, etc.) now, make it all even better.  I might offer a discount, include a special gift, a handwritten note — something that goes beyond just fixing the initial problem. This is where we can really shine a light on our brand’s values.

4. Move It.  Think ahead to what is next. If (when…) I make a mistake, I like to ultimately move ahead with my customer, appropriate to the situation. Maybe it’s sharing my hopes they return to my shop or soliciting their feedback. Perhaps it’s following up at a later date, or offering a discount for a future purchase….let’s do something to move ahead and out of the mess.

Since mistakes are going to happen, let’s not focus on the disaster, but how we can take that moment and run with it, creating customers for life.

 How do you turn mistakes into opportunities in your business and life? Share with us in the comments! 


  1. Tracey says:

    Hi Allisa-

    I loved reading this. It’s all so true. I think people get so scared of making mistakes that they run and hide, when in reality accountability is the easiest way to deal with a disaster.

  2. Allisa says:

    So happy to be here sharing my thoughts on this!

    @Tracey – Yeah, the old ‘run & hide’ response never really works to well does it? Though it might feel easier in the moment, it’s always harder in the end. Thanks for chiming in, I always love hearing your thoughts. xo

    @Tara – Ah, the golden rule. It really applies to just about everything doesn’t it. Sometimes, I think businesses forget buyers are actual people too…and instead play a “us” vs. “them” sort of approach. Never good. Thank you for sharing your thoughts!

  3. That’s right, making mistakes do sting. Especially when they’re pointed out by the people we offered our work for. But lessons aren’t always easy and for free. Still, these are the kind of lessons that are worth learning. Thanks for posting this Allisa.

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