People mess up. No one is perfect, and although we may like to think we can perform jobs without errors it just simply does not happen. It’s part of being human. However, realizing that mistakes will happen and it is how you respond to them that really shows what you’re made of. Unfortunately it is very hard to restore trust once it has been broken and it takes so much work to build a strong bond of trust. This goes for all kinds of relationships not just in the business world.
In the book, they list of couple of helpful tips to try when you have messed up, the client is unhappy but you want to make it better. Being respectful, being prompt, explaining, undivided attention and updates are key when you are trying to fix something. The book also lays out an 8 step process to follow. 1. Be prepared, 2. Get the facts, 3. Find the feelings, 4. Let them know you got it, 5. Dispute the facts (if you must), 6. Frame the problem, 7. Handle the feelings, 8.Handle the problem. These are also great, but the one thing that comes to my mind that I did not see mentioned was taking accountability. When you do make a mistake, people will respect you a lot more if you own up to it and apologize. I have learned this from personal experience. Even if it is not your fault completely, taking ownership will sometimes appease the client a bit. However, if it truly was not your fault at all, try not to take the blame for everything, but certainly don’t shift it to someone who should not have it.
I bring up the accountability, because I have made mistakes and I own up to them and I can tell customers and mangers/bosses really appreciate that versus when I have seen others make mistakes and try to make excuses. This goes for all my time in sports but also my time working.
Another thing I think is important is to show the client that you really do want to help. If you genuinely want to help and it was an honest mistake, you will still get people that are are going to be mad, and that’s fine, but hopefully most people will be understanding.
Also, dealing with the first problem in a prompt efficient manner will restore trust more quickly. The quicker the problem is resolved and both parties are happy, the quicker they will forget (hopefully). Luckily, I have had the good fortune not to have ever made any huge mistakes that would potentially drive a client away so it is hard for me to speak to this exact topic from a personal perspective. The only experience I have is with small mistakes with daily customers. It is easy to say you need to own up to smaller mistake since the consequences are smaller. I can’t imagine making a mistake that that might cost your company a million dollar client, or potentially lives depending on what industry you work in.
All in all, building trust after it is broken is 10 times harder than building it in the first place, which sucks, but that is how it is. Every client is different, but show them you care, take responsibility, fix it as fast as possible and of course, try not to mess up in the first place. Lastly, everyone makes mistake, it is not the end of the world when you do, but you should try your best to fix it and everything will be okay.