It’s your worst nightmare: the client phones and says that you’ve made a big mistake. What do you do? Whatever you do, don’t have a nervous breakdown. Stay calm and analyze the situation. As an independent consultant, remember that it’s up to you to remedy the situation quickly and with a minimum of fuss.
Listen carefully and don’t interrupt or defend yourself. Apologize but don’t grovel. Don’t go on the defensive or overreact. Tell the client that you will correct the situation as soon as possible.
Assess your mistake. What went wrong? Was the mistake an issue of miscommunication? What can you do to prevent this from happening again?
Explain the mistake to your client and take responsibility. No matter how irate a client is, they’ll usually appreciate your honesty. Tell your client how you are going to fix the mistake. Have an action plan/remedy ready, so that you are prepared for questions or asked for more details.
Fix the mistake and then move on. Don’t let your errors prevent you from moving forward or trying something new. You don’t learn much from doing something perfectly; real knowledge comes from the errors you make. Think of each mistake as a “teacher”.
Remember, we all make mistakes. What’s important is that you learn from each experience so that you don’t make the same mistake twice.
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