So you made a mistake that negatively impacted a client, now what do you do?
You might be reading the statement above and think that it could never happen to you. You double and triple check all of your work, never miss a deadline, and have trained your team to do the same. Unfortunately, we are all only human and even if you have never been in this scenario before, it is bound to happen sooner or later.
In order to save the client relationship when a mistake does occur it is important to have a plan of action in place before a problem arises. Having a plan makes the mistake much easier to correct when the inevitable one day occurs.
To help your business better prepare for potential mistakes, the Summa Media team is sharing the lessons we have learned over the years with you today. Read below for our team’s top five tips for saving a client relationship following a mistake.
First and foremost you must own up to your mistake.
No matter how big or small the mistake is, you must first admit fault to the client in order to repair the damage and move on. It can sometimes feel tempting to assess the problem before addressing it or even to attempt to solve the problem completely before coming clean, but the Summa Media team urges you to reconsider that tactic.
The longer you wait to own up to the mistake with, the less likely the client is to trust you when you finally do. No one likes to feel like they are being duped and a client certainly will not want to continue doing business with someone they feel was dishonest with them.
Even if the mistake was not directly your fault, if you are the relationship manager for the client it is your responsibility to admit fault to the client. Address the issue as soon as possible, explain what happened without placing the blame elsewhere, and tell the client how you plan on rectifying the situation.
After owning up to your mistake you must now apologize.
Even if you do not feel personally responsible for the mistake that was made or if you do not think the mistake was a big deal, you must apologize.
On a human to human level, we want to hear the words “I’m sorry” or “I apologize for” when we are in a situation that caused us pain, inconvenience, or stress. These phrases often subconsciously hold power and simply hearing the phrase can help to diffuse a tense situation.
When apologizing be sure that your apology comes across as professional and sincere. Don’t use the apology as a way to down play the error or to move the blame elsewhere.
Last but not least, don’t hide behind your screen when apologizing. Depending on your physical proximity to the client, we suggest having an in person meeting or at the very least a phone call.
Once you have apologized it is time to find a solution.
Now that you have owned up to the situation and diffused it through an apology, the client likely wants to know how you are going to fix things. This piece of the puzzle starts to get a bit more complex and will of course vary depending on the details of the specific situation.
In a perfect world you already had a solution in mind when you admitted the mistake and apologized, but if you did not that is okay. Let your client know that you and your team are working on a solution and give them a firm deadline of when they can expect a resolution.
Once you have come to a solution that works both for you and your client, make sure that the solution is completed to the client’s satisfaction to avoid further issues.
Reflect on what you learned from this mistake.
As we said at the beginning, mistakes are inevitable! We are all human and we all make them. It doesn’t feel good and you may not be proud, but it is important to keep things in perspective.
Instead of beating yourself up after making a mistake, think about how you can learn and grow from this mistake. Start by reflecting on why you made the mistake in the first place. Were you careless? Were you rushed to meet a deadline? Did you ignore a warning sign of a bigger issue?
Once you determine why the mistake occurred, consider what changes you can implement in order to ensure that the same mistake does not happen again. Depending on the mistake, changes may include personnel changes, technology implementations, or better time management. Whatever change needs to occur, discuss it with your team in order to ensure higher standards moving forward.
It is now time to move on from the mistake.
Often times people hold onto mistakes out of fear. We continuously apologize to the person we may have wronged, even after they have forgiven us. We hold grudges over coworkers who slipped up, anxious that they will do it again. We beat ourselves up over something we did years ago, embarrassment creeping back up as we’re brushing our teeth on a random Tuesday.
This is no way to live. It creates unnecessary anxiety that will likely lead us to make more mistakes in the long run. After you properly address a mistake it is time to move forward. You need to let the past be the past in order to heal and grow.
Mistakes aren’t fun to make, but they also aren’t the career enders we fear. At Summa Media we know our employees are human and lucky for us most of our clients know that as well. Through open and honest communication we are able to successfully rectify mistakes when they occur and keep our relationships in tact.
The Summa Media team would love to hear your thoughts on mistakes!
When you make a mistake how do you handle things? When a mistake is made that impacts you, how to you like it to be addressed? Sound off with Summa Media in the comments below!