How to Recover from a Bad Mistake on the Job

Infini Kimbrough
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Customer service is fraught with potential for errors. Representatives have to think on their feet and learn from mistakes quickly. Failure to do so can have negative consequences for your entire career. When you make a big mistake on the job—whether it involves upsetting a customer or failing to adequately meet a customer's needs—it's important to try to discover what led to the mistake and correct it so that it doesn't happen again. In this way, you learn from mistakes and demonstrate that you're dedicated to your work.

The first step in recovering from a mistake is acknowledging that the mistake exists. You may have mis-keyed an order or provided incorrect information to a customer. Acknowledging your error is one proactive step that you can take, allowing the recovery process to begin with you. Once you own the mistake, you can analyze exactly what caused it and begin to take corrective action to improve yourself and your processes.

To learn from mistakes, you also need to identify what caused them. You may have been momentarily distracted or trying to handle too many tasks at once. Perhaps the customer stumbled through important information, or you failed to verify spellings or address information. Identifying your mistake is paramount in correcting it immediately and preventing it in the long term. Once you have acknowledged and identified the mistake, you may communicate it to the customer or your superior, depending on the steps you need to take to correct it.

Customer service professionals may have tools available to correct mistakes, or they may need to reach out to supervisors. Any customer who is aware of the mistake should be advised that you're taking steps to correct the problem. Any perceived loss should result in compensation, usually in the form of free upgrades or vouchers that cost the company little but demonstrate that your business cares about customer satisfaction. Implementation is the final step for recovering from bad mistakes, allowing you to address the problem directly and improve yourself and your processes as you learn from mistakes and resolve as many negative repercussions as possible.

A bad mistake on the job can leave your confidence shaken. When you show that you can learn from mistakes and correct errors, your supervisors see a different side of your work ethic. This increases their confidence in you and allows you to move on and tackle the next challenge with your newfound knowledge. The process of recovery isn't always simple or easy, but when you learn from mistakes, you gain experience that may prove invaluable in your customer service career.

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