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If you dropped the ball with a customer, how can you redeem their trust again?

by Dave Kahle

By "dropped the ball" you can be referring to two different situations. First, it was your company who messed up. Your company didn't fulfill the promises you made. Or, second, it was you. You didn't do what you said you would do, or you somehow personally violated the customer's expectations for you. Regardless, the remedy is similar.

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You must make a personal, heartfelt and detailed apology, as soon as possible. And you must do that to everyone who is impacted by the problem. If the problem was your company, apologize on behalf of the company. If the problem was you, personally apologize.

You do that first, because that eases the tension in the situation and acknowledges the impact on the customer. Remember, you are building a relationship with these people, and, like in all relationships, sometimes things don't go quite right. An apology is a great way to clear the air. Most people will tend to accept your apology and not hold it against you. Everyone makes mistakes.

Now comes the hard part. While most people will accept your apology, they won't necessarily forget the infraction. It's like catching one of your teenagers smoking dope.

He may ask for your forgiveness, and you may give it, but it is prudent for you to watch him carefully for the next few years. You can forgive, but you are wise to not forget.

Dave Kahle has trained tens of thousands of B2B salespeople, sales managers and business owners to be more effective in the 21st Century economy. He's authored nine books, and presented in 47 states and seven countries. To access Dave's training, insights and tools online, visit The Sales Resource Center. Visit www.davekahle.com to check out a seminar near you.

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