Customer Experience News & Trends

Recover lost trust: Proven tactics

Despite our best efforts, mistakes happen. Deliveries are late; promises are broken; or quality issues surface. You have to realize everything you do affects trust, including how you handle it when things go wrong.

One slip on your part — a broken promise, a false claim, a breach of trust — and you risk losing more than a sale. You may lose a hard-earned customer.

Restoring trust

Researchers, studying the best ways of restoring trust, suggest:

  • When you make a mistake, admit it right away. Don’t try to cover it up with excuses. The customer knows what’s going on and the experience will cast doubt on our credibility. Once you admit the mistake, start talking about solving the problem. Customers can forgive incompetence if you recognize and acknowledge the mistake that caused the problem and explain how you will make sure it won’t happen again. Customers may forgive mistakes much more quickly than they will excuses, and deceptive or selfish intentions.
  • Recognize that good behavior is the single most effective way to restore trust after an episode of bad or untrustworthy behavior. Even though a stated promise to behave better does accelerate the growth of trust, trustworthy actions are more effective.
  • Make realistic promises. When the competition is tough, it’s easy to over-promise. But it’s far better to be realistic. Nothing undermines trust faster than broken promises.

Adapted from “Extreme Trust,” by Don Peppers and Martha Rogers, founders of Peppers & Rogers Group, a customer-focused management consulting firm.

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