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Mistakes Happen: How To Say You’re Sorry (Hint: A Gift Can Help)

Published: 2021-03-09 Author: Lisa Horn

Whether you're a small start-up or a corporation with a centennial history, one thing is sure: Mistakes happen. Typos are made. Incorrect orders are shipped. Deadlines are missed. 

Sometimes it's just a tiny flub, a miscommunication of a minor detail perhaps. But other times, the mistake can be major. A coding error in an ecommerce website results in shipping costs calculating incorrectly. Hundreds of direct mail pieces promoting a new product are mistakenly printed with the wrong specs. Technical difficulties prohibit thousands of people from attending a virtual event. 

In the continued wake of C-19, many businesses are short staffed, having to do more with less. Inventory is tight with disruptions in the supply chain. Now there are even more opportunities for delays or mistakes. How can you rebuild consumer confidence after a less-than-stellar experience?

5 Steps To Bounce Back After A Mistake

No matter if the gaffe is large or small, it is how you handle the situation that matters. No person or process can be perfect 100% off the time, so it's imperative to have a plan for what to do when the unexpected error occurs. 

To recover from mistakes, follow these five steps to regain credibility so customers can trust you again. 

Step 1: Own It 

Don't act like a victim of circumstance. No one likes playing the blame game or pointing fingers. Take personal responsibility for what happened. Owning it is a critical first step in building back respect. 

Step 2: Apologize Sincerely 

Skip the fake “I'm sorry if you were offended” mea culpas. They're insincere, and people see right through them. Say you're sorry and mean it. Good apologies should acknowledge and demonstrate your understanding of how your actions impacted the other person negatively so you can be sincere with your regret. 

Step 3: Fix It 

If it's possible to correct the error, then fix it. As fast as possible. If the mistake is along the lines of a missed deadline and something important has passed or occurred that can't be undone or redone, offer concessions. Give a rebate on the current project + offer a discount on the next order, for example. Have an honest conversation with the customer to find out what they view as a successful outcome and, assuming it's reasonable and possible, make it happen. 

Step 4: Communicate 

During the fix-it stage, be in regular communication with the customer so they know exactly what's happening to address their issues. This shows you take their concerns seriously and are truly working to make things right. 

Step 5: Learn From It 

Once the problem has been resolved and the customer is (hopefully) happy, reflect on what happened and why. Where can improvements be made, new policies enacted or procedures updated? Let the customer know what changes you've made because of what you've learned so they won't encounter the same mistake again.

Offer A Gift

Giving a gift is a great way to show you're sorry and make amends. We're not talking about trying to buy your way out of a problem. Rather, a simple token of appreciation to show customers that you care. Something small, yet sincere. 

As far back as the Greek, Egyptian and Roman dynasties, flowers have been used as a way to apologize. In business settings, however, sending flowers may not be appropriate—but that doesn't mean that you can't send a little something to lighten the situation or ease the pain. Check out these ideas for inspiration:

We Screwed Up (But Have The Tools To Fix It)

Here's an idea: Send an imprinted screwdriver that's gift boxed with an enclosed card that says, “Sorry we screwed up. We've got the right tools to fix the problem immediately!” 

There are a lot of promotional screwdrivers to choose from, so where to start? You'll love the Built2Work Screwdriver Level Light Tool. This 3-in-1 tool features a built-in level and pen light plus four screwdriver bits (two flathead and two Phillips head) conveniently stored underneath a removable cap. It also has a clip for easy attachment to a pocket or belt, and three button-cell batteries are included. Get all the details by contacting us here.

We Didn't Measure Up

Didn't fulfill a customer's needs as anticipated? Let them know what changes you've implemented so you'll be able to measure up to their expectations in the future. 

The Built2Work Tape Measure features a 16' retractable metal tape with both inch and metric measurements) plus a lock button. It has rubber casing for durability, a wrist strap for easy carrying and a metal belt clip for hands-free transport. Find out why this tool measures up by contacting us here.

Good Times Will Be Back Any Minute

Once a mistake has been made, remember that the clock is ticking—not only on how fast the problem gets resolved but also on quickly you apologize. When you need to show that some “times” you have to say you're sorry, choose a subtly decorated clock to say that the good times will be back any minute. 

Cute and functional, the Flex Man Digital Clock has a message holder slot in the top of its head and features a digital alarm and displays the time date and seconds. Comes complete with a pen and is individually gift boxed. Get all the details on this cutie by contacting us here.

We're Heartbroken Over Our Goof

Want to sweeten a customer's day after a mix-up? Try sending candy with a personalized card that asks if they have it in their hearts to forgive you. 

The Cupid's Candy Box is filled with four ounces of delicious red sugar hearts and packaged in a 2.35” clear box that can be customized with a brand name, logo and other messages on the four-color process label. Find out why this candy will make recipients' hearts skip a beat by contacting us here.

Making It Right

Beyond a sincere apology and any necessary reparations, there are many ways to use a gift to say you're sorry. Just make sure the gift is appropriate for the situation, aligns with your overall brand messaging and, most importantly, is something the recipient will value, keep and use. 

Gaffes. Missteps. Oversights. They happen. Don't let the opportunity pass by to show customers you do care and are truly sorry for the inconvenience. The little things make a big difference with their overall satisfaction with the experience you provide. 

No matter how you address the situation, make sure to give the gift in a timely manner—which means you'll need to have items on hand for immediate use. Need help? We're your source. Our concierge service can work with you to choose appropriate items that your customers will appreciate. 

Drop a line at or book an appointment at to schedule a quick 10-minute chat, 20-minute new product call or 30-minute brainstorming session. You won't be sorry!