Ask the Expert

Will customers forgive the mistakes of trustworthy companies?

In general, if a loyal customer has one bad experience with a company, how much does this impact their level of trust? In your opinion, how forgiving are customers these days?

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Customers who really trust you can be incredibly forgiving. After all, it isn't easy to find a trustworthy company to buy from. But they are only forgiving when it comes to honest mistakes, not deception. Everyone makes mistakes, and customers can forgive a glitch or two in your processes, but they won't remain loyal to you if they detect that they've been deceived in any way, or if they think you've been less than honest with them in fixing the problem. JetBlue's Valentine's Day ice storm in 2007 is a great case in point. The carrier canceled more than one thousand flights over a holiday weekend and generated tremendous ill will among its customers and prospective customers. But it quickly took corrective measures. JetBlue implemented (voluntarily) a "customer bill of rights," entitling customers to specific levels of compensation whenever any designated inconveniences happened in the future, and soon had restored the trust of its customers to previous levels. There is an entire chapter on the topic of recovering lost trust in our book, Rules to Break & Laws to Follow.


Hear more in Creating Customer Value, a monthly podcast series with Peppers and Rogers.




This was first published in March 2009

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