Face it, we all make mistakes. Some little, some big and some really big! Whatever the category, it is just a mistake. Investigate why you made the mistake and avoid those circumstances in the future. Sounds easy doesn't it... or so you may think.
When a mistake is made, it is generally costly. It could be the expense of a physical piece ruined, a strained customer relationship, lost time or maybe all of those things combined. What can you do to recover the costs? Not much.
a.) If you ruined an item, you have to buy another one or reimburse the customer.
b.) Lost time. Well consider that gone. Really, really gone.
c.) Strained customer relationship... that can be mended. Not easily, but it can be mended. How?
Do not make excuses! Don't say,
"A bird crapped on my cat's nose and it distracted me."
"My neighbor sneezed, scared their elephant which ran right by me and it's weight shook everything off of my shelves, including your item."
"My favorite song came on the radio and I started dancing. Well, my tutu knocked the paperwork off of my desk and your original order was lost under something somewhere."
"I lost electric power at the very moment the bomb exploded."
Instead of excuses and lies... admit it! Do you think your customer never made a mistake? People can see right through a lie, regardless how good you think it is. Not only will this anger your customer, you will lose all credibility. BUT, if you tell the truth you will find most people understand and a lot can even relate to your circumstances.
Now... how to fix it.
Have a plan. If an item is ruined, replace it. If you cannot replace it, volunteer to pay the customer whatever it cost them. It is better to loose money than to loose your reputation. A lost reputation takes a very long time to recover, if at all.
If possible and the customer permits it, give them your original service for free. Or at the very worst, volunteer to pay to have someone else do it.
Regardless, a mistake is costly but it can be turned into a positive outcome for everyone. Main ingredient? Honesty.