Businesses, small and large, are run by people and people are prone to mistakes. The mistakes your employees or you make can cause a great deal of inconvenience to your customers. So, while the old addage “the customer is always right” is not really true, the sentiment behind it is. Here is a 5-step plan for repairing the broken relationship between your company and a dissatisfied customer:

1. React quickly. DON’T pull a Tiger Woods and wait. The longer you wait, the less heard your customer feels and the more time they have to become angry.

2. DO NOT fingerpoint at employees. Do a thorough investigation of the incident but often the issue is systems, not people, based. Endeavor to learn from this mistake or it is truly an opportunity lost.

3. Stay in communication with the customer. Let them know what you are doing to remedy the issue. Silence is not golden. It is harmful.

4. Solve the problem. Issue a refund, replacement, apology. Ask the customer what they need to be satisfied again.

5. Follow-up after a week or so. Touch base with the customer to ensure they are satisfied with the outcome. Let them know you value their business.

In reality, a mistake made and repaired can build a stronger business/customer relationship than no mistake at all. Why? Because they get to see how you handle their issue and they also get one-on-one care from the business’s leadership team. This can build rapport, if handled correctly, that wasn’t there before.


by Steven Schlagel