Tip 17: Fix it when your customer thinks you messed up (but you really didn’t)

There may be times when you’ve done right by your customers, but for whatever reason they think you haven’t. It happens. Sometimes customers make mistakes. Instead of haggling over who’s right, just make it right.

Show them you care more about the long-term value of the relationship by quickly overcoming a short-term disagreement. And if your customer ever realizes his error, and that you took care of him anyway, you’ll have endeared yourself to him even more.


  1. In my old career as a healthcare marketer, I once organized a meeting with a group of doctors in Rome. One day, one of the doctors called the agency I hired to coordinate the event very frustrated about something he thought they did wrong. The agency in fact had not done anything wrong, the doctor had just got confused about something he hadn’t read correctly. The agency which was excellent at customer service, did a fantastic job of calming the customer down and “fixing” the issue to his satisfaction. When I saw the doctor a few weeks later at the event, he actually apologized to me for the way he communicated to the agency.
  2. Have you heard the story about Nordstrom’s allowing a customer to return a set of tires, although the store didn’t sell tires? Yeah, that’s customer service and a commitment to maintaining customer loyalty at a whole other level. But for Nordstrom’s, keeping in good standing with their customers, even in going through great lengths to do so is worth it for them. The store has noted that their commitment to legendary customer service contributes to their top line by increasing repurchase rates and referrals.


  1. Don’t look at correcting an error you didn’t make as a loss for your business. Instead, consider it an opportunity to increase customer loyalty. Create a culture in your business that’s all about serving your customers, and maintaining valued relationships. There’s probably been a time or two when you’ve fixed a problem in one of your personal relationships even when you were totally in the right. That approach works with your business relationships as well.
  2. Fixing an error for a customer is great. But that doesn’t mean you have to accept bad behavior. Especially if that behavior is degrading, rude, or disrespectful in a way to you, your team, or your other customers. Should something like that ever happen, it might be time to sever the relationship with that customer, if they will do more harm to your business than good, or prevent you from serving your other customers in a meaningful way.

Application for your business

  1. Think about your personal relationships. Write a description of how far you went to preserve one of those relationships when you were not the one “in error.” Would you be willing to do something of similar effort to preserve a customer relationship?
  2. Make a list of unacceptable behaviors from customers that you won’t tolerate in your business. Having a list of your “deal breakers” in advance will put you in a better position to serve the customers with an issue who don’t cross the line.

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
  16. Fix it when you mess up