This post shares part of its name with a recent post from the amazing Bruce Turkel. Turkel, owner of the (appropriately named) “TURKEL”, a marketing/brand development firm (I think?), works with some of the largest companies in the world – developing their brand, their message, and also (occasionally) helping them navigate the cold waters of business.
Bruce’s most recent post is another business/marketing gem and highlights 5 steps that any company can take to save their brand.
I’d like to take our own quick spin on things and also reveal a recent situation where these steps were used to help save a relationship.
5 Steps to Saving a Client Relationship:
- Confess – Agree that bad stuff happened and get ALL of it out immediately
- Define – Be the first to get the message out (or respond immediately) and you can then frame the message, taking control of defining what happened and how it happened.
- Act – Work to make amends.
- Apologize – Too often in business, owners, sales managers, and people in power let their egos get in the way. No matter the situation understand you’re always dealing with people and they appreciate an apology (although you’re only as good as your last failure/success – more in a minute – so make sure to deliver after your apology!)
- Relate – Appeal to your audiences emotional side. Everything is emotional.
Atilus’ #6 – You’re only as good as your last failure/success (and timing matters) – Always keep your clients’ frame of reference in mind (see everything from their perspective). You can get 1000 things right, but you get one thing wrong (particularly when it matters to them) and you’ve lost all rapport.
In web design I think it’s important to change the order of the above steps and would probably put “act” at the top – get your problem solved as quickly as possible and then address the other steps.
Unknowingly Atilus has been using these techniques for years. Chock it up to our emotional maturity, or simply dumb luck, but following the above 5 steps has helped us hold on to nearly ever client we’ve worked with and establish long-many year relationships, in an industry dominated by false starts, empty promises and fly-by-night firms and service providers.
Enough patting ourselves on the back here’s a real world example of how the above was used just the other day.
Atilus Drops the Ball
A new client signed on board a number of months ago and we’ve been working hard to transition, upgrade, and implement an Internet marketing plan for their new website. Everything was going right. A great fit on both ends (work ethic, response times, etc.) but, it came time to launch their site and many little details had been left out.
It looked bad. It was bad.
But, we acted immediately, working with the client to address the problem, and then went through the above steps – confessing our short comings, defined the mess that had happened, why it happened, and how it was solved.
We apologized. For a few people coming to our clients’ site, they were presented with the wrong information making our client look like a fool (and possibly insulting their audience) for no fault of their (our client) own. Finally we were able to relate to the owner and everyone involved using statements like the above, they were understandably upset (we ALL were upset), and Atilus recognized the potential damage to their brand and audience our missteps had.
What I find most interesting though – and it seems to be a fact of life – not just business, is that you are only as good as your last ______.
Much like they say in regards to movie stars and hits, one can spend years building rapport, and providing stellar service, but it is only that last success or failure that you are judged on (perhaps it’s our limited capacities as humans – always balancing our primitive sub-conscious with our more long-term memory/reasoning brain).
And, just like in all of life, in business, your true test of character is not in never making a misstep, but in how you handle yourself when you do.