Dear Aunty B,
We are a small services business that provides exemplary service to clients. While changing to a new computer system recently, we made some mistakes in some client accounts.
We sent an email apologising once the problem was brought to our attention. But one of our clients has contacted us to tell us the apology was “not enough!”
Their contract is up for renegotiation. Are they just holding us over a barrel and looking for a discount? My staff want to hold our ground as we have a great culture and are passionate about what we do and the service we provide.
Why isn’t an apology enough any more? No one’s perfect.
Are you batty? You just told me you are perfect! Now you say you’re not?? Listen you numbskull; you haven’t satisfied your customer. And if customers were king in the boom, they are now masters and mistresses of the universe.
Customers will always judge you for failure. So you stuffed up. And they are annoyed. They are annoyed enough to raise it. Now I am picking up a sniff of arrogance here.
First thing to do is check with the staff who want to hold their ground. Are they covering up? Are there any more mistakes you should know about that have got your client so hot under the collar? It is amazing how often staff might slag off at customers to cover their own mistakes, and how they can start to back into a corner and see the client as the enemy.
Clients want to see you have addressed the underlying problem, not just get an apologetic email. I think you need to immediately pick up the phone and arrange a meeting. Just listen to what they have to say and then grovel.
Remember when there is a problem with the client, it takes three parties to solve; the client that wants the problem resolved and to ensure it never happens again, the manager/boss in charge of the area/business, and the employees who deal with the customer.
Watch out for the situation whereby the client is left feeling their beef was not addressed seriously enough, even when they have received an apology and some form of compensation. So if a discount is required to keep an annoyed client, then a discount is what you offer!
Your Aunty B.
Dan Cavelli writes: I think your response to What’swrongwiththeworld was right on the spot. It is so easy to blame everything and everyone when things don’t go our way. At last someone who believes in accountability. The best part, you’re in a position to tell it the way it is without flowering it to make it palatable for the Mr Nice guys of the world; thanks for the blunt truth.