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What do you do when you have screwed up

What do you do when you screw up? I did it unconsciously in a newsletter I run when I tried to find some options for what to do to get people to call back when you have left a message on their answering machine.

I suggested that you could let your children record a message on the answering machine - and that you can talk loudly with an imaginary friend. And then I topped it off by encouraging people to call in the middle of the night. I had some fun when I wrote that, but that twinkle in my eye was probably just in my imagination. So what do you do – here are your tips:

Act as quickly as you can!
Why is it so important to throw away everything else and immediately take care of a customer who isn't satisfied? Besides the obvious in that you want satisfied customers, you can be sure that for each person contacting you with complaints, they will be followed by hundreds of others! It's those who care the most that complain - but there is always a much larger group behind them. It's important that you repair the damage quickly and that you do it in an honest and sincere way.

There are four steps in the repairing process of unhappy customers:

Listen – don't just interrupt and apologize. Let your customer vent his/her anger which often involves something that's broken, missing or not working as promised. This you can prevent by explaining to the customer already at the time of the purchase that if something goes wrong, you will be there to solve any problems.

Show the customer that you understand the problem by repeating back to them the problem. This is where you show that you are taking over and ”own the problem”. You show that you are the person responsible for the solution, the customer doesn't need to look any further than you. Imagine if big companies got their staff to take over ownership of the problems immediately when a customer calls - (in your dreams, baby).

Apologize with empathy and respect – that's what the customer wants you to do.
Fix the problem. If it can't be fixed now - then tell the customer when you intend to do it and when he/she can expect to hear from you.

Give the customer something extra for causing him/her trouble
Evaluate the event so that the same thing doesn't happen again.

About the author

Stefan Ekberg has worked in marketing for small business for 20 years and has written around 30 books on how small business owners can market themselves with limited resources. . In 2012 Stefan was nominated as Entrepreneur of the Year in Stockholm.

230 000 prescribes to his free newsletter "The 5 minute marketer"
Every week some 230,000 prescribers gets his free newsletter about 5 minute marketing.

"The 5 minute marketer" - the book
You run a small business and you want to get ahead of the competition, but how can you give resources to marketing when you're short on time and the budget is tight? The solution is here! The 5-Minute Marketer is packed with 395 tried-and-tested ways to market your business in 5 minutes or less.