When Mistakes With a Customer Happen

Mistakes happen… what matters most is what you do to correct the mistake. If you or your company does in fact make a mistake it could actually improve the relationship between you and your customer.

 

When you attempt to ignore mistakes, you lose the opportunity to maintain or rebuild a trust in your relationship. When that happens it doesn’t take long for the relationship to reach the breaking point. 

 

When a mistake does happen there are some steps you can take to lessen the negative impact.

 

The first thing you must do is acknowledge the fact that you or your company did indeed make a mistake. Owning up to it will show people your human side. It will bring the interaction to a more personal level. You should let your customers know that you are working on their behalf. That helps build trust. 

 

Be sincere when talking to your customer about the situation and assure them that you will take steps to make sure that it doesn’t happen again.

 

Just an aside here; don’t try faking sincerity, the only person you might fool is yourself and even that won’t last long. 

 

Second, you must put any conflicts aside. Move as quickly as possible to the actual issue which is fixing the mistake. You will never win an argument with a customer, or anyone else for that matter, so don’t make the situation worse by trying. 

 

Don’t let pride get the best of you, being defensive only makes a small problem bigger and it makes a big problem possibly too big to resolve.

 

Putting yourself in your customer’s shoes will help you better understand where your customer is coming from. It may help you realize that they, in all likelihood, also have someone to answer to within their own company. 

 

You know what they say about stuff running downhill….well when you make a mistake you put yourself at the bottom of the hill. Live with it. 

 

Mistakes happen but they don’t have to be the end of good customer relationships. It’s vital that you act to resolve the problems caused by the mistake. Not only do you stand to lose one customer but possibly all the people that customer may talk to as well.


Plus, and I believe this is most important, fixing your mistake and making things right for the customer is simply the only honorable thing to do. 

Are You Making This Mistake?

Mistakes happen, everyone knows that. Everybody makes mistakes, even you, even me as a matter of fact. I actually never go too long between mistakes. Most are small and I’m the only one who knows about them. Some are large and lots of people find out about them and every once in a while I make a mistake in front of large groups of people. The mistakes in front of groups are almost always the result of talking and then thinking of what to say later.

 

Your next mistake might be just around the corner. I’m sure you don’t like to think about making mistakes but here’s a couple of thoughts that may help you avoid making one of the most common mistakes of all.

 

The first thing to keep in mind is that it is not a mistake to make a mistake. My dad used to tell me that the only people that never make a mistake are the ones who never try. Mistakes provide us with a real learning opportunity. They can show us what not to do and sometimes provide us with clues on what we should do.

 

An absolute key to learning from a mistake is to admit the mistake to ourselves. No one has ever learned from a mistake they were unwilling to admit to themselves. If that sounds like a cliche it’s because it is. Like most cliches however it is rooted in fact. Since we haven’t admitted a mistake we’re much less likely to review our actions to see where we went wrong.  People who refuse to even acknowledge their mistakes can’t ask for help because that would require admitting a mistake. 

 

Here’s the second key to “mistaking well” – when you make a mistake, and have admitted to yourself, then admit it to others also. Don’t hide it. Accept personal responsibility for it then and there. If you’re honest with yourself, a key to success all by itself, you know when you’ve made a mistake. The sooner you admit it to others the less likely you are to make a second mistake by blaming someone else. So admit it to yourself and then admit it to others too. Don’t kid yourself they may have even known about the mistake before you did.

 

Denying your mistake or even worse, blaming your mistake on someone else almost always makes things worse. It eliminates your chances of getting help to fix the mistake. It makes you look like a knucklehead to everyone who knows it’s your mistake. Denying a mistake often causes you to make even more mistakes when you’re trying to cover up the mistake you don’t want people to know you made.

 

Never make this common mistake of not admitting your mistake. Admit your mistake and reach out for help. People admire people who have the confidence to admit they can be wrong and the confidence to admit that someone else may know something they don’t.


If you have the confidence to mistake well then it’s also likely that you have the confidence you need to eventually succeed.

Are You Responsible?

I saw an advertisement for a law firm on television the other day. The ad said that if you had lost money in the stock market or other investments that you “shouldn’t blame yourself,” you should sue your investment advisor. It said “you’re not responsible.” 

That pretty much sums up where many of today’s problems come from. No one blames themselves for anything. Nothing is anyone’s fault. Responsibility, for way too many people, is a thing of the past. 

When kids mess up it’s not their fault, it is the parents. When parents mess up it’s the “systems” responsibility. When the system is screwed up it’s the politicians inability to get anything done that’s the problem. When the politicians don’t get anything done one party blames the other….and on and on it goes. 

Where there is no responsibility there is no success. Responsibility removes productivity blocking excuses. Responsibility leads to learning and the elimination of mistakes. Responsibility is a direct road to success. 

Fewer and fewer people are willing to stand up and accept responsibility for anything that goes wrong. If you’re not a fan of long lines then step right into the line of responsibility because there will be almost no one in line with you. Meanwhile the no responsibility line goes on forever these days.

Sometimes, rarely, not accepting responsibility can be a sign of humility, especially when it is responsibility for something that went right. It was interesting watching the New England Patriots celebrate their amazing comeback victory in this year’s Super Bowl. It appeared most of the team, even their biggest stars, were playing a game of “hot potato” with the credit for their success. Every player interviewed claimed someone else was more responsible for the comeback than them. 

But here’s where their true success comes from. If they had lost I’d bet you nearly every player on that team would have accepted responsibility themselves. Authentic Leaders and successful people accept more than their share of  the responsibility for a failure and giveaway virtually all the credit for any success. 

If you truly want to be a leader then admit your mistakes, accept responsibility for your actions, and never never blame someone else for something you did wrong.

Accepting responsibility for your decision making, choices, actions and their outcome indeed adds pressure to your life but that’s not a bad thing. A bit of pressure helps you excel. Accept the pressure of responsibility and the odds are you will be more successful as a result.