Mistakes in Service Grow Customer Loyalty


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Actually, the title of this article is not entirely accurate. The mistakes themselves don’t immediately grow customer loyalty but how you and your company respond to the mistakes is the real key to the best customer retention possible.

Yes, providing unflinchingly perfect goods and services can influence customer loyalty. However, when you get a chance to prove how human you are and how near perfect you are, you will have a better chance at keeping customers around for a long time.

The general public wants to be very forgiving. More than that, they want to work with humans who understand their particular needs. If that’s the arrangement, then real humans will be working with real humans. To be human is to err (isn’t that a famous quote?). It’s a pretty simple understanding. What retailers and service providers forget is their human-ness. They think they are right, perfect, and best in class. With that egocentric attitude, mistakes won’t get rectified because mistakes won’t even get acknowledged.

Think back to a time when you received goods or services that included mistakes. Here are some typical responses company representatives use to remedy the mistake their company made:

A. Sorry
B. You should have told us that you…..
C. We did nothing wrong and you still owe us some money.
D. We don’t make these kinds of mistakes.
E. Our (lower level person) made a mistake
F. It’s company policy to…(not make you happy)
G. We admit we made a mistake and want to make it up to you. We will ….(finish sentence with action item agreeable to the customer)

Most consumers can attest to having heard all of these responses to mistakes yet response G is provided least often. Yet, response G is the only mistake-action that will give a company a fighting chance of retaining customer loyalty after an error. Being human can be really profitable some times if all mistakes are coupled with a remedial action.

Darcie Davis
A career focused on finding the factors that inspire customer/client retention was shaped from, often naively, relentlessly asking questions. I am the founder of HUDDLE Sessions for Women which offer pop-up advisory boards.


  1. read your article, feel that it’s really true. I’ve been thinking about inter-people relationships for a while now, and i do realise that people love people who are human. we kinda live in an age that censors mistakes and ignores weakness, but it is our weaknesses that make us human.

    i wrote an article about the human touch and customer service. take a look! http://blog.zopim.com/2012/07/02/the-good-old-human-touch/#respond


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