“I am sorry” is the most important thing you could say to a dissatisfied client. Every business owner has made their share of mistakes and will certainly continue to do so if they are progressing. Many mistakes can be mitigated with a simple “mea culpa.” However, many small business owners tend to offer up excuses or worse, brush off the error. As consumers, who really wants to know what the excuse is anyway? Don’t we all just want an acknowledgement that we were wronged? Wouldn’t you prefer to have someone offer you a sincere apology and small gesture of recompense than to have him or her plow you with excuses? Who cares why it happened. It happened.
Great clients are forgiving, new clients are cautious and potential clients are on the fence. When you make a mistake with a client, just fess up. Something as simple as saying “I am sorry” does 3 things:
- It acknowledges that you missed the mark and have fallen short of providing your client with a pleasant experience. Acknowledgment 90% of the remedy.
- It shows you take responsibility for the error regardless of how it happened and who is really at fault. You represent your business and that includes the vendors your use, the employees you hire, your collaborative partners, your referrers, etc.
- It provides an opportunity for you to resolve the error. You don’t need to give away the kitchen sink, but you certainly need to compensate your client appropriately (which could be as small as a discount or added product or as big as a complete refund).
The next time you miss the mark with a client, apologize first. Save the excuses and start with an apology. If they require an explanation, be direct, be clear and be accountable. Clients want what they pay for and they want a pleasant experience. Good news travels fast. Bad news travels at the speed of light. One bad client experience can cost you a minimum of 10 potential clients. Don’t pass up an opportunity to keep your clients happy, satisfied and returning!
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A.Michelle Blakeley is in the listening business. As a Micro Business Therapist, she provides an open-minded and non-judgmental ear to listen to the real issues and concerns that start-up, emerging and women entrepreneurs experience and negotiate solutions through comprehensive discussions and practical micro business plans. She is featured in Forbes.com and the Financial Post as one of 30 Women Entrepreneurs to Follow on Twitter, contributor for the San Francisco Examiner and Fearless Woman Magazine; the host of Simple Truths for Women Entrepreneurs on BlogTalkRadio.com and author of the NEW e-book: “Get it Right and Move Along… a collection of practical tips, tools and techniques for small business owners.”