Customer Success: You Messed Up, Now What?

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We are delighted to be joined again by guest blogger Manoj Jonna, from YayPay, with his perspective on mistakes. We know you'll find this helpful!

By Manoj Jonna

“To err is human.”

Businesses make mistakes, often. Customer success teams are one of the first groups to bear the brunt of business missteps. But what happens when customer success teams make mistakes? What do you do when you are the pitcher and the catcher?

We’ve done many things right here at YayPay. As a budding customer success team, we’ve also had our moments of introspection and learning. We learned that adopting a standard strategy can help you bounce back from your mistakes and turn things around.

5-Step Model

We’ve distilled our strategy into a repeatable 5-Step model. The model has the following key components – the five A’s.

  1. Assess

  2. Acknowledge

  3. Analyze

  4. Assist

  5. Amend


When you get a disappointing note by email or a dreaded phone call from your customer, pause for a second. Fight the urge to react at that very instant.  Although the need for speed is key, we need to balance expediency with thoughtfulness. This is the time to assess the nature and gravity of the issue. This is not the time to analyze in-depth because you don’t have access to all the information. Perhaps your customer simply wants to be heard. Perhaps the problem is more serious that you anticipated. You do, however, need to have a baseline understanding of the issue at hand.


The next step in the process is to acknowledge what your customer has to say. Stick with the medium of communication that your customer prefers. You know your customers best. Pick up that phone, get into a car, type that email. Whatever you do, ensure that your customer feels heard. In many cases, the situation may very well warrant a sincere apology. This stage is also your opportunity to gather any missing pieces of information from your customer. Once your customer feels heard, you will have the opportunity to ask follow-up questions. Reassure your customer that you will resolve the issue and provide a timeline for resolution.


This is stage where you get to take a breather. Your customer is appeased, for now. You are equipped with the right information. You can now move from a cursory assessment of the issue to a deep-dive analysis. Break it down into chunks. Determine what went wrong, how things went wrong, why things went wrong, how things will be fixed, who will make the fixes, and how similar issues will be prevented in the future. Communicate your findings with your customer. If you need to make changes to your resolution timeline, this is time to let your customer know.


This is the most straightforward stage in the model. Your analysis is complete and now it is time to execute on your findings. Work with your internal teams and your customer to resolve the issue. Don’t fall into the temptation of assuming that the issue is resolved. Confirm with your customer and get complete buy-in.


This is by far the most important part of the process. The 5-Step model is built on implicit trust between you and your customer. In Step 2, when you acknowledge your mistake, you also make an implicit promise that you won’t repeat that mistake. You only have one bite at the apple. Amending your existing processes, product, or technology so that you won’t repeat the same mistake closes the feedback loop. Without this key step, the model falls apart.

While there is no perfect recipe that solves all customer success challenges, having a repeatable model will provide much needed structure in times of crisis.

Need practical tips on how best to approach your customer once a mistake has been made? The Success League is a customer success consulting firm that offers online training and workshops, like our upcoming Difficult Conversations class (8/9). For more information for this and our other classes and workshops, please visit 

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Manoj Jonna - Manoj Jonna is Vice President of Customer Success at YayPay, an Accounts Receivables Automation Platform. After spending nearly a decade working with fast growing early stage and mid-market companies, Manoj has developed a keen interest in finance transformation. Prior to YayPay, he worked as investment banker at Deloitte Corporate Finance where he represented businesses on M&A transactions. As a former CPA at Grant Thornton, Manoj worked closely with CFOs on business process improvement. He is a graduate of Georgetown Law.