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When & How to Apologize to a Client

Posted By Administration, Wednesday, December 19, 2012
Updated: Friday, August 30, 2013
Being human, there is a chance I may make a mistake in selling or delivering a service to a client. I don't want to make it worse and have clients lose confidence in me. What's the best way to apologize for a mistake and keep my reputation intact?

First, be sure it is really a mistake. If you think something is appropriate and your client thinks it's not, that is a different problem. Have a clear and mutual understanding of the client's criteria for success and high performance BEFORE the project or engagement starts.

Second, if you do recognize a mistake has been made, don't wait to acknowledge it. Talk to your client immediately about the intended outcome, and your role and responsibility for the mistake.

, after acknowledging the mistake, work to ensure both you and your client are better off as a result. Don't offer an apology with no ownership (e.g., "If you were hurt by what I did, then I am sorry") .

TIP:When you realize a mistake has been made, create a strategy to insure it doesn't happen again, even if it was not entirely your fault.

Go to your client and suggest how you can work together to make the organization stronger and better able to avoid such mistakes in the future. And make sure you include your own behaviors and practices in that strategy.

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