We’re all human. Mistakes happen. Some of these mistakes are small, others quite large but one thing is always true: it is not what happened; it’s how you handle what happened that counts!
Here are some suggestions on how to best deal with a situation that has gone wrong:
Take responsibility for the situation and apologize
It doesn’t “feel good” to make a mistake but looking around for others on whom you can cast the blame is never the right approach. Taking responsibility requires some fortitude but it is the ONLY way to go. Apologize for what has occurred. Your apology is a straightforward way to take ownership (aka responsibility) of the situation and express your remorse. By doing this you will pave the way for the steps itemized below.
Provide a solution.
All of the apologies in the world don’t matter a bit if you can’t arrive a solution or two that can correct the situation. Why two? By suggesting two options you will put the other person in a position of power whereby they get to decide what works best for them. This step can help to minimize their anger or frustration.
Follow-up, follow-through and make certain that the solution occurs exactly as described.
There’s nothing worse than arriving at a mutually acceptable solution only to not have everything proceed as planned. This is your opportunity (and perhaps your last opportunity) to win back the trust that was lost and you must take every precaution to make certain that all goes right.
Provide something for nothing
Once you have settled the original problem and the proverbial “dust has settled” it makes good sense to reach out and make a “special offer.” Perhaps you can throw in an add-on service at no additional cost or provide a discount on the next product or service they purchase from you. The key is to show appreciation for their business. Don’t be stingy! Remember that it costs much more to win a new customer than retain an existing one.
These days the key to good business is to exceed customer expectations and when something has gone wrong, the relationship has to be rebooted. This is no time to scrimp on your efforts to regain trust because the client that had a problem situation successfully resolved can become even more loyal and appreciative of the work that you do together.