Business Lessons Learned: Remember to Watch Your Step

By Lindsay Bell-Wheeler

As Kristen Matthews mentioned in her post yesterday, I too love life lessons.

Those moments where you realize you’ve made a bad decision, or chose incorrectly.

Now, as much as I love life lessons, I don’t love business lessons learned at the expense of a client. Derp.

That said, much like our fearless leader Gini Dietrich (and Kristen!), I do love sharing life/business lessons.

Because, as the day inevitably dawns bright and clear after every dark and stormy bad decision or questionable choice, you always learn something valuable, and shareable. (If you don’t – you should probably reboot yourself and start life over.)

I’ll Fall On My Sword….

So, here are three lessons I learned this month. Well, actually, I learned them a long time ago – but somehow forgot about them.

Haste Makes Waste

As a former TV producer of 20 years, this slip particularly pains me. I preach “research” like a mad-woman. But, I was bamboozled by a tight turn-around, and a sweet deal.

For shame, Lindsay.

The deal came from a SaaS company I had done a little digging on a few months back – and I’d obviously shared my email with them at some point {email marketing is not dead!} The deal had a catch – only 48 hours to join. And by the time I opened the one in question, the clock had ticked down to 24 hours or so.


I had a conflab with the powers that be, and based on my memory – and my recommendation – we went for it. And it was *koff* a bit of a nightmare.

Lesson Learned: When making a big change, don’t rely on your memory of something you poked around in a month or more ago. Even if the clock’s ticking, breathe, calm yourself, go back and do some more research, and really be confident it’s the best choice for you.

Don’t Assume Anything!

I am always somewhat saddened when people/companies stretch the truth to make themselves sound better than they actually are.

Yes, I know, that’s rich coming from an ex-media type, isn’t it? Even richer for an ex-media type who now works in marketing and PR. It’s absolutely LOL-inducing, right? But it is fact.

And yes, I feel like a jerk for making assumptions. I assumed  when a company advertises itself as an ‘X’ provider, said company would have the internal infrastructure and capabilities to actually provide ‘X.’ You know, relatively pain free (heck, there’s *always* glitches and a learning curve).

But this wasn’t the case. And that’s my fault for not taking the time to dig deeper (see above), question everything, and trust no one.

Lesson Learned: Read the fine print, and don’t believe the glossy hype machine. I realize this is ‘101’ stuff, stuff I don’t even have to remind my 14 year old son about. But consider this: I’m fairly savvy, a bit of a cynic at heart, and yet I had a day when life was probably a bit hectic, maybe I didn’t sleep well the night before, maybe the planets aligned in some perfect marketing/sucker formation – whatever it was – BOOM – I let my guard down, and didn’t do my due diligence. It could happen to you too.

Try Before You Buy

Yup. I should have made sure we kept our old service, and factored in enough time to get up to speed and all the glitches worked out before we switched. But I didn’t. So, when we realized there were major compatibility issues with the product, we didn’t have an alternative, and were quickly running out of time on an upcoming project.

Lesson Learned: It ultimately took us two solid weeks of test runs and dealings with customer service before we got things functioning at an acceptable level. And, as mentioned above, a client ended up with less than 100 percent. And anything less than 100 percent is not good enough for me.

If You Fall on Yours…

I also learned loads about how an organization can do things to head off the two solid weeks of head banging, eyeball poking frustration  we went through.

Don’t Oversell Yourself

Please, businesses, for the love of all that is holy – stop over-selling yourself. Whether you’re over-selling your product’s functionality and capabilities, its usability factor, or the level of customer service you’re able to provide – please, just stop.

You know what happens when you oversell and can’t deliver? Customers get really annoyed.

Plan Ahead

If you’re doing an email blast with an offer for pro level membership – an offer so sweet (which, admittedly, it was!) there’s a good chance a whole lot of people are going to take you up on said offer – please have your customer service people prepped for what might be a deluge of issues.

Think about it. A boatload of new clients. Using your service to help make their business offerings look/function better. All using your service for the first time – at the same time!

Plan for a massive increase of customer service issues, insist on rapid-fire turn around of complaint emails, and ensure your people are schooled in how to use your product.

When a customer service rep starts Googling for answers…?  Yeah, that “really annoyed” feeling mentioned above ratchets up to “head blowing off.”

Website Help Desk

And last but not least, have a comprehensive web-based help desk set up. This is of particular importance if you’re offering some type of software as a service.

How about a Q&A section? Potential glitches section? A “Mac or PC” section?

Perhaps a library of videos – in depth videos, hand-holding A to Zed videos – anything at all where a time strapped user can do their own trouble shooting, while waiting for returned phone calls and/or emails.

So, there you have it. Heck, we’re all human, and we all make mistakes. But I don’t plan on making those same mistakes again any time soon.

Lindsay Bell

Lindsay Bell is the content director at V3 Marketing, and works in Toronto. A former TV producer, she’s a strong advocate of three minutes or less of video content. She has a cool kid, a patient husband, two annoying cats, and Hank Dawge, a Vizsla/Foxhound/moose hybrid. Ok, maybe not moose.

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