You messed up. It happens. It happens to everyone because nobody is perfect. We also know that some mess-ups are really rather small and others a bit more serious; regardless, it doesn’t matter much at all because the only thing that does matter is what you do when a mess-up occurs.

Yes mess-ups are a part of business life and how you handle the situation can mean the difference between moving forward and mending the slightly tattered relationship or potentially losing the client.

Here are 5 tips on what you should do if you (heaven forbid!) mess-up:

Own up and don’t try to cast the blame elsewhere. Sure you can point your finger at another person or company but it is the wrong thing to do. If it is your client and you are responsible in some manner for the mess-up then the best thing to do is take responsibility for whatever occurred. The client will think more positively about you if you take ownership of the situation rather than poke around for someone else to shoulder the blame.

Communicate with the client just as soon as you know there is a problem. It’s much better to bring the problem to the client’s attention rather than for them to find out about it on their own, making you look like you were asleep at the wheel. Be alert and as soon as you see even a potential issue tell the client.

Fix it. It’s often that simple – just fix it! Clients aren’t much interested in anything other than correcting the mess-up and fixing it according to their liking. In some situations the best solution is to provide the client with several options and let them decide how they would like the issue corrected. This makes them feel like they are in control and it’s an excellent strategy to use when a mess-up has occurred.

Offer something for nothing. Sometimes when there has been a problem you need to step up your game just a little bit. Offer to ship or redo something at no charge, reduce your fee for the next project; you get the idea. Be generous. You can win the battle but lose the war. Think of the lifetime value of this client relationship and act accordingly.

Apologize. Often folks are so hell-bent at getting out the work that they forget the simplest thing of all and that’s to apologize for the situation. Apologize quickly and sincerely and make certain that the client understands that you care!

Remember that it’s how you handle a problem that can make raving fans of your customers. You never want a mess-up to occur but if (when!) it does, make sure that you do the right thing and you’ll find that you gain an even more loyal customer.