The possibility of losing a client is a common challenge faced by all entrepreneurs. It’s mostly got to do with deadlines, lack of labour, difference of opinion between the client and the service provider, paperwork or a similar reason.
Although many startups have most part of the business streamlined, many others have very little or no experience in client management. If you find yourself in such a situation, here’s how you can repair your stained relationship with a client.
Image : shutterstock
The foremost thing to do is discerning where the issue sprouted. Look at the problem as a learning opportunity for yourself and your team. Before any decisions are made and before responding, spend some time to understand the mistake and how deep the problem is. If these initial steps of discovering the problem and finding the extent of the damage aren’t taken, it’s hard to take the suitable steps to repair the damage and understand how not to repeat the mistake again.
Though it may seem tempting to dismiss the predicament, it’s not an option even if you’re a well-established company to dispose of clients. You need to introspect about the method you adopted while completing the project.
It’s a thumb rule in any kind of relationship to talk things out when it’s a rough patch. You messed up. Accept it and try to talk it out with your client. You must do this with a calm mind and a clear conscience. Own up to the mistake and apologise.
Let’s say you did not complete the task within the deadline you agreed on. Make the client understand the reasons for the delay, provided they are genuine. However, there’s a fine line between ‘reason’ and ‘excuse’. Do not beat about the bush while explaining yourself. Keep the explanation brief.
Let’s assume that you are, indeed, the one who brought this upon yourself. Be the bad cop, but don’t beat yourself up for it. Instead of giving in to that panic attack, come up with smart ways to solve the problem at hand. Get hold of logic and explain to the client what exactly happened. Give them concrete options as to how you’ll ‘make it work’ and ensure that the issue will not repeat. If necessary, offer to pay for the mistake.
However, if you’re part of an organisation and have tried to mend what is soiled but to no avail, now is the time to involve your upper management. For entrepreneurs, consulting a confidante is a great way to arrive at a possible solution.
Offer to take up the project for the second time and give it top priority until it’s done. You’re racing against time here, but you have to keep in mind that you’re at risk of losing an important client who gets you good business.
Once you finish the project, do the final checks over and over. Taking some help from a co-worker can give you an outside perception of the work you’re about to submit.
If you’ve done well in convincing the client that they can trust you again, and they have given you another chance, pay more attention than usual to the future work you’re in charge of. At this point, the client may already have a negative impression of the quality of the work you deliver them, but you’ve also been given the chance to change that perception!
Do something to exceed the expectations of your normal working agreement. Show your dedication and convince them that their business means more to you than just the financial gains.
When a problem arises, don’t let it leave you dejected. Mistakes happen. Keep a calm mind and work quickly and smartly to retain an amiable relationship. Also, it’s always best to keep things transparent than to go through the tedious process of making your employees pump that extra bit into the assignment.