Small Business Mistake? Own up And Keep Your Customers

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It doesn’t matter if you’ve been in business for 25 years, or just got your small business up and running a month ago, both types of businesses rely on a few key factors to be successful, with customer service being the most important.

Remember when Target upset more than 70 million customers when their servers were hacked and countless credit cards were put at risk? They lost sight of customer service.

No, not because they were hacked. That can happen to anyone. They lost sight in how they handled the situation.

Here’s some advice to make sure you don’t make the same mistakes:

1) Own Up To Your Mistakes

There’s nothing worse when any business openly and knowingly screws up. Most of the time — like in the case of Target — it isn’t even the direct fault of the business. Bad things happen, it’s how you react to those bad things.

If you make a major mistake, own up to it. Acknowledge to your customer base that a mistake has been made and that it’s being taken care. Apologize to those customers and let them know specifically what will be done to correct the error.

Your loyal customers keep coming back to you because you’ve done something wrong. You’re not perfect. But in order to guarantee they come back after a blunder, you need to let them know that you understand this out of the norm, and you’ll do everything in your power to make sure it doesn’t happen again.


Think of the alternative. If you don’t own up to it, it can easily be perceived that you’re brushing the problem off.  That translates into less customers.

2) Transparency Is Key

Following up on the last bullet point: By letting your customers inside your business, they will trust you more.

Let’s not get out of hand — you don’t need to share employee salaries, business strategies against the competition or personal information. But the customer does deserve to know things like how your invoicing works, when new product typically becomes available, and if any hurdles might pop up along the way. If you know you made a mistake, try and own up to it before it gets really bad. If a customer can be prepared for some dicey news, it’s easier to swallow having heard it from the owner of the business, instead of an informal letter because you had to act quickly and reactionary.

Don’t send out an email. Visit your customers, call them on the phone. The more personal, the better.

3) Understand the Pain

Target had a massive breach and people were rightly upset. The problem was that Target didn’t fully understand what its customers were dealing with.

They had to cancel credit cards, order new ones, make sure their identity wasn’t stolen and ensure no unwarranted purchase were made. That’s a lot of work.

As a small business owner, you need to understand that if you make a mistake, put yourself in the customer’s shoes.

You can offer them a discount, but make sure it’s generous. If they have to suffer, you have to suffer a little bit.

Make your apology clear and echo it on social media. That goes a long way.




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