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.