Customer Care

My Bad: How to Correct a Customer-Facing Mistake

Nicole Leinbach Reyhle
March 6, 2017

Life is complicated and like it or not, it often means we make mistakes. In business, mistakes can lead to vanishing customers, slowed business, and dejection… or, they can present opportunities to strengthen customer relationships and make lemonade out of lemons. Which would you prefer to do? When mistakes happen they are often done so unexpectedly. Both yourself and your customer may be surprised, and often you may not even catch the mistake before your customer does. Other times you may recognize you did something wrong and try to reconcile it in an effort for your customer not to realize what happened. How and why mistakes occur will always vary, but the approach you take to mend them can be the same with just a few simple steps. To help ease your next customer experience if a mistake is made, consider the following three tips.

Tip #1: Turn a Mistake into a Positive Experience Customers are more likely to remember the outcome of a mistake versus the mistake itself if it’s positive. Keeping this in mind, aim to please when it comes to navigating mistakes made. How you initially react to the mistake, the opportunities you present to fix or ease the frustration of the mistake and the end result all influence how the customer will perceive the entire experience working with your brand. As you navigate this experience, remember that the end result can be positive if you take the time to identify how to make it a stronger, more positive customer experience. To help, be sure to genuinely listen to your customers versus just react to the mistake. tThis is your first step in helping to shape this to be a positive experience.

Tip #2: Make Yourself Easily – and Quickly – Available As you aim to please, also aim to be easily available to any customers that may have experienced a mistake on behalf of your professional performance. It’s likely that customers who have experienced a mistake are more frustrated and less patient than those who have not, so become readily available to communicate with them as you continue to navigate this customer experience. Another tip? Be available to them as quickly as possible since as time passes, frustrations can grow. When you make yourself readily available, this also means making yourself available as soon as possible. This includes replying to emails, following up on comments left for you and other communication avenues that may exist between you and your client.

Tip #3: Be Polite & Patient Aiming to please, responding in a quick fashion and being easily available for your clients are all great steps towards easing the experience created due to a mistake made. These steps should each be delivered with politeness and patience, since after all… it’s being polite and being patient that can most often win a disappointed customer over. When communicating with your client whether verbally or through written correspondence, be sure to offer your sincere apologies while also identifying what you plan to do to help fix or support the problem. If a resolution is not available, consider offering your client the chance to work with you again for free so that you can redeem yourself on another project.Finally, mistakes will happen but they are less likely to if you triple check your work for any errors. Reviewing client communication and project details can help ensure you don’t make future mistakes – and in return, avoid you from having to fix them. But should you have to, remember these five points to mistake correction.  

  1. Be Easily Available.  
  2. Genuinely Listen.
  3. Extend Patience.
  4. Be Polite.
  5. Offer Solutions

What tips do you have for smoothing over client relationships? Tell us in the comments below!

Nicole Leinbach Reyhle
Nicole Leinbach Reyhle is the Founder and Publisher of Retail Minded, the Co-Founder of the Independent Retailer Conference and a regular contributor to various publications. Additionally, Reyhle is the Author of the book “Retail 101: The Guide to Managing and Marketing Your Retail Business” from McGraw-Hill and has been the Spokesperson for Small Business Saturday from American Express since 2014. Follow Reyhle on Twitter at @RetailMinded.
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