Gaining customer trust after your worst mistakes

By Rhonda Campbell

business mistakes business mistakesIf you had a blueprint, clearly outlining each decision you should make in your personal and professional lives and when, then making mistakes might deserve strong criticisms. After all, you consciously knew exactly what to do and still screwed up. But, who has such a conscious blueprint? Who’s afforded that luxury?

Which is why Elbert Hubbard may have said it best when he said, “The greatest mistake you can make in life is to be continually afraid you will make one.” So, what do you do after you make a mistake, even a colossal mistake? How do you regain your customer trust?

Face reality and start taking action
Start regaining your customers’ trust by being honest. Have your sales force and business managers meet with their clients to discuss the mistake and what you, as the head of the entire company, are doing to correct the mistake. Also, let customers know what you are doing to ensure that the mistake doesn’t happen again.

Other steps you could take to recover from your worst mistakes are to:

• Acknowledge to yourself that you made a mistake. You’ll actually have to take this step before you can complete any of the other steps successfully.
• Free yourself from giving into the temptation to defend or deny the mistake.
• Meet with your management team and discuss how the mistake started, why it went unnoticed and what safeguards could be put in place to avoid a similar event. Don’t gloss over this. Spend time digging to the bottom of what occurred and how it could be avoided in the future.
• Be patient with customers when they complain or vent about the mistake.
• Reach out to loyal customers, asking for ideas on how to avoid a similar mistake in the future. These are customers you are in close communication with.
• Write and distribute a letter to customers, publicly acknowledging the mistake. Provide an overview of steps you will take to correct the mistakes. Close by thanking customers for their continued support.
• Refund customers their money if the mistakes are directly related to defective products, etc.

This one might come as a surprise, but you should also look for lessons that you learned from mistakes you make. As Cicero says, “We must not say every mistake is a foolish one.”

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