Day 928. Have you angered a client? Here’s some advice for repairing the relationship.

October 9, 2013

365+ Days of Living the Dale Carnegie Principles

Day 928.  Tuesday, October 8, 2013
Yesterday our salesman forwarded an email from an angry customer.

I reviewed the email and glanced through the problems the customer had with our company.  Our salesman wanted to resolve the matter now.

Smiling Daffodil:  “Hi Joe, I’m going to review matters further.  In the meantime, everyone needs to sleep on this matter.  I will present a solution tomorrow.”

Joe:  “Ok.”

This morning I had an email waiting for me.

Joe:  “I have a solution. What if we do XYZ.”

I didn’t want to be hasty.  While I understood the reason for Joe’s solution I wasn’t certain we had exhausted all our options.

Smiling Daffodil:  “Let me discuss the matter with my supervisor.  I’ll have a solution shortly.”

I reviewed the facts.  Technically, our team made the mistake.  Technically, the mistake was related to the quirks of technology.  But it was still our mistake.

I drafted an email to the angry customer.

Smiling Daffodil:  “Dear Cooper,

We certainly have made a mistake!”

I went on to explain how the mistake happened and provided a screenshot.

Smiling Daffodil:  “… moving forward we will avoid such mistakes by changing our policy in how we accept materials….  For the inconvenience, I’d like to offer you the following opportunities….”

I outlined two value added opportunities that we’d offer to promote Joe’s products.

Smiling Daffodil:  “Let me know what dates work best for your team to schedule these two value added opportunities.  We’ll make sure our schedule is open.”

I ended the email thanking the client and explaining that I look forward to working with him.

I shared it with our salesman for his input.

Joe: “That’s very generous.  Hopefully he’ll accept this.”

I sent the email directly to Cooper and now I wait for his reply.

The Dale Carnegie principles featured in this story are from How to Win Friends and Influence People:
Principle 12.  If you are wrong, admit it quickly and emphatically.

From How to Stop Worrying and Start Living:
Do the very best you can.

The lesson in this story:  When you or your team make a mistake, admit it and offer a solution(s).  Try to offer solutions that give the other individuals options to choose from—this gets them involved and more willing to move forward instead of dwelling on personal issues.

Now, I will admit as I drafted the email to the customer, I wondered if I was breaking some Carnegie rules.  The email began with admitting we made the mistake (which is correct) but I did spend time explaining the causes for the mistake.  Theoretically, the customer (and people in general) don’t care about the reasons for a mistake—in fact, they may see them as excuses.  I understand this point of view.  I do think it was necessary to show we investigate matters and gather the facts—and as a result we are also learning and improving from this process.

I have no idea how the client is going to respond.  But I do know I did my best.

365+ Days of Living the Dale Carnegie Principles By The Smiling Daffodil

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