I hate to admit it, but I fumbled the ball recently on a client’s
project. It turns out the post office didn’t like where I had put a return
address on the back of the card, and instead of mailing to the recipients, they
mailed all of the cards right back to the client. Ouch! Yep, even experienced designers make mistakes now and again.
Client sent me a panicked email indicating that all of the cards
have been returned. He then asks, “What
can we do about it?” If you’re not familiar with how business people talk,
this translates to, “What are you going
to do about it?” I’ve got a decision to make:
A) The client did tell me to put the address on the back, and he did approve the artwork so I can argue he’s at fault and have him pay for half.
B) I can accept responsibility and eat the cost.
C) I can tell the client I don’t provide refunds.
I chose B.
Ultimately it was my responsibility to check with the post office ahead of time about the design. I didn’t get angry, I didn’t argue with the client and I didn't dwell on the issue. The client didn't want to hear my explanations, he just wanted a solution. That's what I gave him.
Instead I sincerely apologized, recommended a solution to reprint the cards for free, verified that the corrective action had been taken and thanked the client for his patience and understanding.
What I didn’t do, and what you’ll want to avoid if you don’t want to lose the client:
- Arguing with the client
- Blaming others for what happened (like the client or post office)
- Making excuses for the mistake
- Dwelling on what happened (you’ll want to move on quickly)
- Fumbling around for a decision (make a decisive choice on what to do)
- Getting bogged down with paperwork or red tape (just fix the problem)
While it may sound like I got the short end of the stick on
this transaction, I didn’t. You’ll find that opportunities like this to make
things right when they go wrong is a terrific way to strengthen a relationship –
and yes; you can even get more business from something like this.
It turns out, the client called me up 2 days later and indicated he wanted us to redesign his web site. $3000 for the redesign versus $185 cost for reprinting the cards.
I’d say I did the right thing – what do you think?