It's bound to happen. We're only human and we all make mistakes. We try very hard in our businesses to put processes in place so that we don't make mistakes. But it happens. So what do you do when it happens?
Here's my opportunity to be authentic and admit that recently we made a mistake on a client project. Of course it was completely unintentional and accidental. Upon review we still don't even know how it could have happened. But it did. Our client brought it to our attention in a very kind manner. He knew it was accidental and unintentional. Though the mistake couldn't actually be fixed, he expected us to offer some sort of compensation for the error. And we completely agreed!
We were mortified that a mistake had been made! This client is one of our favorite clients. We really enjoy working with him and we weren't sure if this was going to be the end of our working relationship. We needed now to make sure we lived up to our customer service superheroes policy. So we discussed exactly what we could offer this client to make amends for this mistake. We wanted to be sure that what we offered far exceeded any expectations he had.
We called our client and apologized for the mistake, no excuses. Then we proceeded to explain what we could do to make amends. We made a generous offer of additional time at no charge and offered to take on a project we knew he needed done at no charge. We wanted to make sure our client felt well taken care of and hoped he'd continue working with us.
Our client was very happy with our offer of additional work at no charge! He explained that he'd wondered how we would handle the situation. He realizes that mistakes happen and that it's the way they are handled that makes all the difference. He was very excited to continue working with us and had a project we could start on immediately. He was so impressed with the results of that project that he offered to write a testimonial if he hadn't already (he already had though). We continue to work together and our client continues to refer others to us.
Yes, we will make mistakes. It's how we handle them that determines the outcome. So here's my 3 simple rules on how to handle mistakes:
1. Own up to your mistakes. Take responsibility for what you did. Don't make excuses. Figure out how the mistake was made, if at all possible, and then put into place processes to prevent that mistake from happening again.
2. Apologize. Give your client a sincere apology, without excuses, for what happened. If you used a sub-contractor and the error was made by your sub-contractor, you still need to take responsiblilty.
3. Make generous amends. This does not have to be monetary. It can be additional time or product. Be sure your client feels they got more than enough compensation. If the error resulted in a $500 loss for your client, make amends of double that value.
When you own up to your mistakes, apologize, and make generous amends, you'll find that your clients appreciate your openness, honesty and integrity.