Fess Up to Your Mess Up

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Have you ever called a service provider with a complaint? Most of us have, and most of us can recall an unpleasant experience or two. Whether the customer service folks on the other end seemed disingenuous, or the company did not do something they said they would, we can all relate to the frustration of feeling dissatisfied. As business owners, this is the exact feeling we aim to avoid. How can we abolish the stereotype of cold and unfriendly business? By practicing the art of the “Fess Up.”

Step 1: Acknowledge

The first step in rectifying an error is to acknowledge it, and that your customer is right in bringing it up to you. Acknowledging the error helps demonstrate the care and concern you have for your clients, and goes a long way in keeping their trust. It shows you and your company are taking responsibility. Saying something like, “Gosh, you are absolutely right! It looks like we did make a mistake here,” is validating to clients and helps them feel heard. Of course, if you’d like to apologize as well, this is the perfect time to do so! Just be sure you are genuine when you do say sorry. An insincere apology can be worse than none at all.

Step 2: Correct

It’s best to be clear about what you are going to do to fix the error—clients appreciate being kept in the loop. It’s also helpful to explain your next steps so the customer is confident the situation will be resolved. Be sure to set clear and realistic expectations about what you can and cannot do. Creating a partnership with a client is exactly what you’re aiming for here, and that is best done on a foundation of honesty.

Step 3: Follow-Up

The follow-up call is an excellent way to go above and beyond in showing your dedication to client happiness. Set a reminder to give your customer a ring after your intreaction to see how things are going. While you’re at it, use this follow-up as an opportunity to offer additional assistance, even if it’s unrelated to the original complaint. Clients are often surprised and delighted you’ve remembered their woes, and are grateful to have the opportunity to provide more feedback.

Armed with this problem solving method, you’ll surely build loyalty and recognition among your client base. Your clients are human beings, and like most humans, they yearn to feel heard and supported. After all, improving customer experience is a win-win!

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