Mistakes Happen. Handle Them With Grace and Keep Your Client

by Jodee Redmond

Most of the time, your work will run smoothly, and that is what you and your client expect. Every now and then, though, you are going to make a mistake. It’s happened to everyone, myself included. You can make a mistake and still keep your relationship with your client intact.

Just to be clear, when I am talking about mistakes, I’m not talking about a minor error that needs to be corrected in editing. I’m talking about situations where the client didn’t get what he or she was looking for, and you need to get things back on track quickly or risk losing the client.

Take Responsibility for What Has Happened

If I’ve messed up, I admit it. No excuses. There may be extenuating circumstances, but pointing this out won’t change the facts.

Apologize to The Client

If you’ve done something wrong, then you need to apologize. Plain and simple.

Offer to Make it Right

You can’t go back in time and change what has already happened, but you can offer to make amends. I care about the relationships I have developed with the people I work with and I would rather go the extra mile to keep them happy than lose a client.

This may mean redoing the work or deciding not to charge the client for the project. I have redone a project once, and there have only been a couple of times that I have refused to charge someone for my work. Both times the client did offer to pay anyway, but I knew they weren’t happy. My take on it was that if they weren’t satisfied, then I haven’t done my job.

Was this the right way to handle the situation? I’d say so. Each time, I was offered more (and better paying) assignments from the clients involved.

How do you handle a situation with a client where you have made a mistake?

Comments

  1. Thanks, Jodee. This is a great reminder – it’s easy to let ego get in the way of handling tough situations properly.

  2. Boy o boy. What a topic. I missed a deadline with a client once because I was moving and my ISP was giving me the run-around. It was the worst. I can tell my client is now stand-offish, but I’m not sure about how I should approach him to ask for more work. Keep in mind assignments with this client has went well and I completed projects sometimes weeks before the deadline. Should I just let him go or try?

    • Be honest with the client about the issue and see what happens. In the future, it helps if you have a backup plan…if my ISP goes down, I can go to the nearest Panera and file from there. If phones go down, I take my cell phone and work remotely. If electricity goes out, I have a backup battery which can (depends on how much I need to do) give me enough time to drop everything on a flash drive and go elsewhere. However, a flood did cause me to miss a deadline. Some acts of God you can’t plan for.

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