4 Ways to Restore Trust After Making a Mistake With Your Customer

“You better fix this, and you better fix this now!”

angry customer

Mistakes. Screw-ups. Dropping the ball. Miscommunication. Errors.

You try to avoid them, but they happen to everyone. I don’t care how careful and efficient you run your business, you will make mistakes.

You already knew that though, didn’t you?

Although minimizing your mistakes are important, responding to them effectively is critical.

Just this past week, our office had a miscommunication with a new customer. Not a long-time customer that we had already earned trust with, but someone who was still feeling us out a bit. Uh oh!

Not exactly the best way to start off a new customer relationship.

These situations are scary.

How can you earn back respect, trust, and good will?

You can’t fix the what has been done, but I do think there are four steps any business or salesperson can take after making a mistake.


This seems obvious, but many businesses have a hard time admitting they screwed up. They pass blame, they sugar coat it, or worse yet, they sometimes simply deny it.

That’s a really bad move. While I don’t believe that the customer is always right, I do believe that their perception of the event must be acknowledged.

Sometimes, just acknowledging the error goes a long way to start the healing process.


Unlike the group Timberland says in their hit song, it’s never “too late to apologize. ” (If you didn’t get the pop culture reference click here🙂

The key to apologizing is sincerity.

Just like when you were a kid, apologizing simply because you are forced to apologize will come across shallow and insincere.

If at all possible, meet with them face to face. When you look someone in the eye and say, “I’m sorry,” it is 1000 times more sincere than a phone or especially an e-mail.

In fact, emailing an apology note may be worse than the initial error itself. It basically reads, “I cared enough to write a couple of sentences and move on with my day.”

Also, since you have already addressed the issue, apologize for the specific error that was made. Don’t just apologize in generalizations, but apologize for the specific infraction committed.

The customer will hear the difference.


Now it’s time to get to work. Acknowledgment and apologizes only go so far if no action is taken.

If you can directly fix the problem, the answer is simple. Fix the problem.

However, you may not be able to fix the specific issue. There are times when what has been done is done. In these cases, you need to come up with a game plan on how you will address the issue for your customer.

Don’t dance around the issue. Address it head on and let your customer know that you will do whatever possible to make it right.

In what way did your mistake harm your customer?

Did your mistake cause financial hardship?
Did your mistake waste you customers time?
Did your mistake damage their credibility?

Make sure you get to the EMOTIONAL root of the problem. The customer needs to understand you are 100% aware of why they are unsatisfied so you can address is properly.

Think of ways you can start mending the situation. Can you reimburse, offer additional products at no charge, or give services above and beyond the norm?

Your solution may not be exactly what they are looking for, but the most important idea that the customer must understand is that you are aware of exactly why they are upset and will do whatever possible to address.

No running and hiding. This is the time to be up front, present, and responsive.


Even after you have addressed the situation head on, there is still much work to be done.

Although I believe you should astonish all of your customers, you may want to sprinkle in a few extra “awesome moments” for a customer that still isn’t 100% sure they made the right decision in choosing you after you let them down.

This is your time to shine. Think outside the box. What can you do for them that will make them sit back and say, “WOW?”

Get to know them better, consistently add insane value, and become one partner they couldn’t imagine NOT having on their team.

Bottom Line

If your business is not making any mistakes, you probably don’t actually have a business. You are human. There are times when you will be careless.

The difference between you and your competitors is how will you respond.

It may not feel like it at the time, especially if you have a customer screaming at you.

Your response could mean the difference between a lost customer and a bad reputation, versus a restored relationship with glowing testimonials.

It still make take months or even years to build back full trust after a mistake, but they will know that you are sincere, responsive, and truly want the best for them.

Question: How do you respond after a mistake? You can leave a comment by clicking here.

Please note: I reserve the right to delete comments that are offensive or off-topic.

  • Tracy

    I LOVE THIS: “Get to know them better, consistently add insane value, and become one partner they couldn’t imagine NOT having on their team.”
    That is exactly what I want to give to my clients!

    • brentmkelly

      Tracy, I am sure your customers love you for it too!!