Oops! What to do when you goof up.

We’re all human, we all make mistakes and we make mistakes in our businesses too. When you make a mistake in your business, it can affect your income and your reputation.  The key to recovering from a goof up in your business is to do a few simple things.

The first thing is to listen to your client’s complaint and acknowledge their feelings. If you jump right in and start defending yourself or arguing, it will push the client away more. It is important to acknowledge them and show that you understand their feelings.  When they feel heard they will be more willing to hear your side of things.

The next thing you can do is to explain things to them. It may be a simple misunderstanding and when they hear your side of things, they might not be as angry. Explain what happened and why it happened the way it did.  Don’t make excuses.  Just tell the facts that they may be unaware of.

The third thing to do is apologize. Even if you did nothing wrong, it’s important to apologize. You don’t need to apologize for what you did if you did nothing wrong, but you can tell them you are sorry they are unhappy. If you are a business owner that cares, that is an sincere apology.

After you’ve apologize, you need to find a way to make things right if at all possible. Explain to them how you’re going to make it right for them. Is there something you can change? Is there something you can give to them? Do you need to redo a project for them? Whatever it is, find a way to make it right.

The last thing to do is to show them it won’t happen in the future. Give them an example of the things you’ve put in place so the same mistake won’t happen again. When a client feels wronged, they want to know it won’t happen again to them or anyone else.

I have made mistakes that I have had to recover from.  Once, I was working with someone on a quarterly mailing. The first time we sent out a mailing for this person, we sent a copy of the mailing to them so they could see what their clients were receiving. The return address I put was the person’s home address and not their business address. As soon as they received it in the mail they were upset and they contacted me asking why I had used their home address instead of their business address.  I felt horrible!

After I listened to their concerns, I explained what I did. I took their billing address and used that as the return address. I should have checked it. I apologized for that. Obviously, I couldn’t change what I had done. I couldn’t take back all the mail that went out with her home address on it, but I let her know that I had already changed it in my system to the business address so the next mailing that went out would be right. I listened to her concerns, I explained my side of it and why I made that mistake. I apologized. I showed her how I was going to fix it in the future.

I took it one step further and I sent her a cookie with an apology message in the mail. The more you can do to show your sincere apology and fix goof ups when they happen, the more likely the client is to stick with you, forgive you and move on. In this case, I got to keep my client. If I had been defensive, she may have pulled her account from me. Simple things you do to have good customer care will allow your clients to stay with you longer.


  1. […] you find that the client is leaving due to problems with your business, you have the opportunity to apologize and fix the problem.  Doing so may be enough to keep the client with you.  If there was no fault on the part of your […]

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