Your organization depends on its good reputation in many ways. For instance, this positive image helps you maintain your current clients and attract new business. As such, you may experience rather devastating consequences if a company mistake upsets one of your valued customers and causes lasting reputational damage. If this ever happens to your business, you need to move quickly to manage your reputation by taking the following steps.
Let Your Customers Know What's Going On Immediately
If and when you make a mistake, you need to give the impacted customers all the relevant details as soon as possible. After all, if customers encounter the issue at hand without hearing from you, they might get the impression that you don't care about their business.
Depending on the gravity of the situation, you might want to publish an update on your business website that lets your customers know when your operations should return to normal. In addition, your customer service representatives should call customers who were directly affected by the incident.
Apologize and Take Responsibility
When you've done something wrong, your customers will be upset. However, an apology can go a long way toward making them feel better and reminding them that your business is a quality company. Let them know that you realize you made a mistake, that it was unacceptable and that they deserve better. And don't get defensive or try to pass the blame to an outside party, even if it may have been their fault. Customers don't want to hear excuses about how your supplier was late. They simply want an apology and an explanation of how you plan to fix the problem.
If your mistake only affected a few people, you could apologize over the phone, in person or through a written apology letter. But if your mistake affected all of your customers, you could publish your apology on your company website, instead.
Resolve the Problem
After you apologize, you need to work quickly to remedy the situation as best as you can. If you missed a delivery, rush to get it to its destination as soon as possible. If your production line is down, give your customers your best estimate for when they will receive their goods. If you have customers who are particularly upset by the situation at hand, you might want to consider offering them a refund or a discount on future purchases so that you don't risk losing their business.
Learn From the Mistake
As always, it's important to remember that mistakes happen. The key to protecting your reputation is simply to make sure that the same mistake doesn't happen again. For example, if your website went down during a key stretch for your customers, you should consider switching to a new, more reliable hosting company. As you figure out your next move, be sure to communicate with your customers about what you're doing to prevent future errors. This information will give them the confidence they need to keep working with you.
All businesses make mistakes from time to time, but their future is very much dependent on how they act after these incidents. By following these steps, you can help prevent your mistakes from causing lasting reputational damage.
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