3 remarkable ways to make up for your mistakes

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When you screw up, people are going to tell their friends. Fortunately, mistakes actually give you an opportunity to earn positive word of mouth. How? By giving a great apology — because while an angry customer may talk to five people, a formerly angry customer made happy talks to ten.

Here are some great ways to do it:

1. Let them see your human side
2. Let your employees surprise and delight
3. Let them tell you how to do it better

1. Let them see your human side

When a customer is upset, a lot of companies are afraid to simply say, “I’m sorry.” They’re afraid of admitting to some liability or calling attention to their mistake. But one of the best ways to gain back the people you upset is to show them you’re not perfect — to show them you’re human. Avoid the polished, PR responses. Instead, do something personal.

2. Let your employees surprise and delight

At Walt Disney World, they pride themselves on being the happiest place on Earth. In fact, when customers look unhappy for any reason, every park employee has the authority to do something awesome for them — like give them a pie (yes, really). Too often, the people on the front lines don’t have the confidence or the permission to go above and beyond for customers. Empower your employees to make a great apology by surprising and delighting your customers.

3. Let them tell you how to do it better

The other — and more important — half of apologizing is fixing what’s broken. Your customers love seeing you actively make improvements, and they love it even more when you get them involved. Giving them some ownership in the way you make things better (even if it’s just telling them how you took their feedback to heart) gives them a reason to tell their friends how much you care, and a reason to forgive your mistake.

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