Tip 16: Fix it when you mess up

Sometimes you mess up. But if you fix things with your customer as soon as possible, you put yourself in a great position to delight her.

Besides, data shows that customers who have had a complaint handled satisfactorily by a company are even more loyal than those who never had any problems with an organization at all.

Bottom line: when you mess up, fix it. Quickly.


  1. One time I was out to dinner with some friends. When the food came, my friend’s salmon was not cooked the way he requested it. When he let the server know, they not only made him a new entree cooked just the way he liked, but they gave him his meal for free to try to make up for the inconvenience. We all thought that was pretty cool.
  2. One night while traveling, the shower in the hotel wasn’t working properly. When I checked out, I mentioned it to the staff, and they immediately apologized for the inconvenience, and promptly offered me a boatload of loyalty reward points to make up for it. I was over the moon happy to get those points, and the hotel more than made up for a messed up shower.


  1. When you mess up, keep the focus on maintaining a good relationship with your customer instead of saving face.
  2. Give people on your team authority to make things good with your customer without having to go and ask for permission. Empower everyone on your team interacting with your customers to be able to resolve an issue quickly and effectively.

Application for your business

  1. Brainstorm at least three quick “I’m sorry for messing up” things you can give your customer to resolve a less than stellar experience.
  2. Write down two ways you can empower your team to handle customer issues on the spot.

Previous tips

  1. Act like you want your customers to stick around
  2. See your customers as individuals
  3. Use the sweetest sound in any language
  4. Remember your customers’ names
  5. Pay attention to your customers
  6. Engage your customers
  7. Get to know your customers
  8. Listen to your customers
  9. Don’t let your customers hear the sound of crickets
  10. Get feedback from your customers
  11. Remember their love for peanut butter
  12. Understand your customers’ needs
  13. Remember special occasions
  14. Be personable
  15. Trust your customers