Every business owner knows things go wrong from time to time. It’s how you handle these episodes that counts. And at the holidays, the stakes are higher. People have higher expectations and a lower tolerance for mistakes. Combine that with distracted employees and larger-than-usual crowds, and it’s the perfect winter storm, so to speak. Here is some advice:

1. Be specific with clients. When handling a service issue, let the client know what will happen and when it will happen. The more information a client has, the less anxious he or she feels. While hearing someone is will address a problem is nice, hearing exactly how it will be solved is more comforting.

2. Extend a peace offering. In the hustle and bustle of the holidays, it is all too easy to get caught up in your own stress, the million things you have to do for your business, and the other million things you have to do for your family. If this stress gets the best of you and you don’t handle a client properly, immediately reach out to make it right. Offer an apology when you’ve made a mistake. Then, make things right by extending a peace offering.

3. Have a standard service protocol, and make sure all employees understand the client service plan and everyone knows how to work together to solve client problems. You might even tell employees key phrases to use in tricky situations, such as, “I’m so sorry this happened to you,” or “I would feel the same way if I were in your shoes.” This can calm down a client and salvage the relationship.”

4. Look for ways to reward employees for saying yes. Have you ever considered how easy it is for employees to say no to client requests? The truth is, saying yes usually creates more work for employees and forces them to take risks. But what if employees were incentivized for yes? “Yes, I can do that for you over the phone right now.” “Yes, I can add that to your order.” “Yes, I can do some hard work for you, even though it would be easier for me to just say no.”

*Maribeth Kuzmeski, MBA, is the author of five books, including “And the Clients Went Wild! How Savvy Professionals Win All the Business They Want” andthe founder of Red Zone Marketing LLC, which consults with businesses from entrepreneurial firms to Fortune 500 corporations on strategic marketing planning and business growth. Kuzmeski has personally consulted with some of the world’s most successful CEOs, entrepreneurs, and professionals. An internationally recognized speaker, she shares the tactics businesspeople use today to create more sustainable business relationships, sales and marketing successes. For more from Maribeth, go to www.redzonemarketing.com.