Not all mistakes are created equal. If you’ve made one where you wish the ground would swallow you up, there is a way through it. If you don’t properly address mistakes with your customers, you will lose them. If you handle a mistake with great skill, you may win them over. No matter the outcome, you can create a culture of dealing with mistakes. What people want when they feel wronged hasn’t changed much over the eons. Don’t take a shortcut because it’s uncomfortable.

1. Acknowledge a mistake has occured ocurred occurred.

Acknowledge the mistake. This helps the customer not feel crazy when you affirm that they were wronged. Some people have problems admitting they’ve made a mistake. That won’t work if you want to have great customer relationships.

2. Explain precisely what happened (really).


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Explain what happened–in as much or as little detail as appropriate. Start by learning what happened. This step helps the customer know that you’ve explored the problem. Then show remorse and recognize what this mistake meant to them.

3. Do your best to correct the mistake and to prevent it from occurring again.


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Explain what you are doing to ensure that this kind of error doesn’t happen again. People can forgive mistakes, but they want confidence in the idea that you’ve built and/or corrected a process that makes it infinitely less likely that it will happen again.

4. Don’t play the blame game.


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Reinforce internally the importance of addressing mistakes openly. Make sure your team understands that good businesses will make mistakes. People shouldn’t fear errors, or think they need to hide them. Finding out what happened isn’t a game of gotcha. It’s how you improve.

5. Fix it.


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If mistakes never occur, your customer may never actually experience the service you provide. Handling mistakes with aplomb will position you as a premium service provider.

(Featured Image: reeravbhatt via Flickr)

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