Despite your best efforts, there will come a time when you fail your customers. You will make a mistake that, if not addressed, will drive them away. But what can you do to keep customers after such failures? The key is to focus on healing and restoring the emotional connection with your upset customers.

Companies don’t give their customers enough credit, according to Customer Think writer Jeanne Bliss. In her article, she reinforces that customers UNDERSTAND that you are human, and you’ll have some bad days. But, that understanding stops when resolution efforts are insufficient or nonexistent.

What NOT to do after a business mistake:

  • Try to hide it or purposefully sweep it under the rug
  • Give an insincere apology (and yes, your customers know when you are not being genuine)
  • Act like you don’t care or try to make the situation better

If you want to prove to your customers that you want them to stay; that you want them back; that they are important, there are steps you can take. And it starts with having a customer recovery plan.

Bliss identifies 5 steps in the customer apology process:

  1. Deliver a swift response. The moment of distress or disappointment is a highly emotional one for your customer. And that emotion will fester if left unchecked. Sending a quick response, even if a solution is not yet known, comforts your customer. It lets them know you are aware of the mistake and are working to correct it.
  2. Show humility and empathy for what your customer is experiencing. You must understand how your mistake impacts your customer. Whether it caused a minor or major inconvenience for them, showing empathy helps reestablish an emotional connection.
  3. Accept accountability. This step is crucial! Do not try to push blame. Accept responsibility for YOUR hand in the mistake. Even if the failure was caused by your customer, identify something that you could have done to help prevent that action from happening. Accepting responsibility moves the healing process forward by skipping the blame game. Also, it helps you grow and improve your performance, just as much as it helps your customers accept your recovery efforts.

“The speed, content and tone of your apology is crucial in a digitally connected world,” states Bliss. “Your motivation is to make customers whole — to earn the right to continue the relationship.” The way you treat your customers in these situations will spread through word-of-mouth and social sharing, so treat your customers well. And for the last 2 steps in the customer recovery process, see the rest of Bliss’ article here.