Every business faces the inevitable issue of dealing with a mistake that causes grief for a client. We have developed a six-step communication protocol to deal with these less-than-ideal situations. Our goal is to address the mistake a quickly as possible, time only makes matters worse.
Step 2: Empathy. A sincere recognition of the mistake and problem that it causes the client and their organization is shared. This demonstrates that we have a full understanding of the client’s business and our role as a vendor.
Step 3: No excuses. We never give an excuse for the mistake. The client will not gain any satisfaction or resolution from this. We are fully accountable!
Step 4: Future fix. We communicate that we have changed the faulty aspect of the process to prevent this mistake from being made in the future. If we have not yet identified the cause, then we state that we are committed to preventing this mistake from happening again.
Step 5: Mitigation of impact. This stage is critical to minimize the impact of our mistake to our client and their organization. Absorb the penalty of this issue. Commit resources to assist in fixing issues at the client, be accountable for the financial impact or offer to communicate our involvement to those affected outside of their organization. We must do everything as an organization to mitigate the impact of the mistake.
Step 6: Apology. At the conclusion of the process, we sincerely apologize for the mistake and the impact that it has had to our client. The preceding steps add validity to this apology and ensure our desire to continue to work on our client’s behalf.
This process is shared with our staff and reiterated when mistakes are discovered, both internally and externally. To err is human, but the response and follow-up are the differentiators among businesses.