A customer once said to me, "How good or bad a business is, is not determined by what they do when things are going well, but by what they do when something goes wrong."
This resonated with me and to this day, still sticks in my head.
Mistakes are a fact of life and regardless of how many safeguards a business has in place, you can't completely avoid making them. In any business, the human factor means that mistakes can and will happen.
However, it takes enormous fortitude to admit that you were wrong and to say that you are sorry.
In business, admitting to a mistake can actually help improve your effectiveness and reputation, if you handle it well.
Despite the fact that a customer does not want to hear about a mistake that has been made and that will affect them, denying that it has happened usually
exacerbates and magnifies an already difficult situation.
The customer will become aware of the situation and by denying it, you can come across as insincere and unwilling to accept responsibility, which can hurt your reputation far more than by being honest.
React quickly when a mistake has been made and "cop it sweet." Swallow your pride and acknowledge the mistake. Admit that you are not perfect and do it as soon as you can.
Deliver the apology in person or if that is not possible, over the phone. This is always the best way and shows sincerity.
Be honest and humble. Don't try to sweep the mistake under the rug or put the blame on others and ensure that you clearly communicate that you understand
the impact that the mistake has had or will have on others.
Identify how and why the mistake happened. By doing this you can ensure that it doesn't happen again. Change existing processes if necessary and/or put new processes in place.
The important thing to remember is that people won't recall the mistake but they will recall how you handled it.