2019 HBCU Careers Magazine

HBCU Careers Magazine

SCENARIO TWO : A client of mine said they sent me something that I did not receive...or so I thought. The client was able to reproduce the item that they sent proving to me that it was in fact sent, because admittedly I was a little skeptical. I live in my email, I think that was one in 100,000 that I truly was not able to recover at the time in question. For me, there was only one direction to go from there; the way of the contrite. I apologized for the mistake and, further, absolved the client of the remaining financial obligation because I made an error that caused time to be wasted, and almost faulted the client for something that clearly there was no need to faulting them for. Serving the client's needs first, maintaining professionalism, representing my brand well, as well as creating a situation where the client would still be able to speak positively about their experience were key considerations of my approach.

TAKE AWAYS What made the difference in these two scenarios? I posit, as you may guess, personal responsibility. I think now of companies and individuals in hot way (think Volkswagen’s PR nightmare for outright dishonesty to shareholders: Volkswagen will now pay 15 BILLION with a 'B' dollars in fees and penalties for their indiscretions ). I understand corporations and their clients can function different relationally than individuals do with one another, but the thing I continue to wonder is what if someone came to the constituents involved and said "We made a mistake, this was our fault AND we'll fix it," BEFORE the whistles started blowing? Could the threat of lawsuits,

plummeting stock, brand tarnishing, etc. be abated, by the act of someone(s) taking responsibility?? We may never really know, but I am inclined to believe that, generally, people are forgiving when there is true penance. The outrage would still flare, the initial financial costs would likely remain the same, but I'd like to think that genuinely admitting fault would trigger compassion and remind constituents of things most of us would like to identify with, like honesty being the best policy and human decency still existing. The establishment I mentioned in the first scenario is now out of business (surprise, surprise!). I may be entirely biased because “Responsibility” is another one of my top five StrengthsFinder themes. The buck stops with me, and I always feel like there is something I can do, if not fully resolving the issue, because I will try. I may also just be more inclined to think this way because of what seems to be the lost art of individuals fueling groups that fuel communities who appreciate, foster and demand personal responsibility with and for themselves and others. You might be saying "how does this relate to career development, again?" Well, the highest mark of quality in representing a brand is providing quality customer service and doing repeat business--this means doing what's required to honestly and humbly maintain the relationship...even if that means saying, "I was wrong." If nothing else--like the purely noble reasons of such an approach--swallowing pride and taking a loss creates the potential of having that client return and/or bring others to your fold. The cost is that client being unsatisfied and spreading the word about their dissatisfaction ( See these FACTS about customer service. One jaw dropping statistics is that it takes 12 positive experiences to make up for a negative one. If you’re like me, I’m not as interested in getting to that second experience after an insufficiently resolved initial one, let alone 12 more. For too many, they imagine that the aforementioned costs do not exist, but they do! It’s good human practice and good business/personal brand practice to own up fully to mistakes and work to avoid them in the future.


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