Hey, You’re Human

Everyone makes mistakes. Here’s how to learn from them.

“We Used the Old Proof”

The Problem:

Dutifully following certain processes that ensure the crucial details of every project are addressed has helped CEO Matthew Watkins and his team at (asi/246818) consistently drive double-digit annual sales growth. This includes an 86% revenue ascent through the first half of this year. He was reminded how important these sometimes mundane processes are when, as a direct result of not following one, he personally slipped up on a recent order.

Watkins was working with a start-up courier service that wanted sticky notes to feature its branding. During proofing, the company owner mentioned that he would like a different e-mail address used in the contact information on the notes. No problem: The change was made, the client approved the proof and Watkins was ready to go. However, being wildly busy at the time, he neglected to purge the old proof with the undesired e-mail address – something he always does per his processes to make sure every order is imprinted accurately. This came back to bite him, as he inadvertently sent the wrong proof to the supplier. The mistake was only discovered after everything was printed.

The Solution:

Oddly enough, the courier service owner was not angry. “He said, ’It’s not a big deal,’” says Watkins. “But I told him it was a big deal. We didn’t provide him with exactly what he wanted. We had to make it right for him.” Watkins did. He had a whole new order of sticky notes – this one with the correct e-mail address – printed at no cost to the buyer.

Furthermore, Watkins even set time aside and had a quality discussion with the courier service owner, himself a young entrepreneur just starting out. “We talked about how important it is when you’re building a business to pay attention to the details and to hold people accountable,” he says. “I shared a few other ideas I’d learned along the way. It was an opportunity to build a much stronger relationship, which we did.” And, it’s those kinds of relationships that keep clients loyal.

The Lesson:

For Watkins, the lesson is clear: No matter how big or small the order, no matter how experienced you are in ad specialty sales, you must remain diligent. Follow tried and tested practices that enable you to give clients exactly what they desire. “The situation here reinforces that the processes are correct and that nobody is above the processes,” says Watkins. “When you consistently pay attention to doing the little things right, the big things start to take care of themselves.”