We’re all in the fast-changing, innovative, not-so-easy-to-keep-up-with business of ecommerce – and that’s no news. While keeping a hold on the latest trends and making sure that we can provide our clients with a valuable service, one can easily forget the single most effective way of building and keeping trust with clients, which has little to do with our formal expertise.
Yes, we can deliver quality solutions, and go beyond the mere UX design and development to work towards creating a truly stellar ecommerce experience for our clients and their customers. And all of that brings in the money and sets us apart as authorities on certain topics.
But, none of that really matters if we don’t treat our clients as human beings and create and foster an atmosphere of mutual trust and confidence. And how do we do that?
It’s quite simple in our book, seeing how various projects have evolved over time here at Inchoo – there is one thing that you can and should do at all times, and without it even the most promising clients will move away as you won’t have created a trusting relationship.
So, here goes…
Admit your mistakes and take responsibility
Do it often and early on. It’s that simple, and yet so difficult to do at times. Mistakes are inevitable as no one is perfect and we’ve all made plenty in our businesses, so what it really comes down to is what do you do when they occur, how do you handle them.
Here are several examples of such mistakes in “our world”:
- client’s project requirements were not understood correctly resulting in a very inaccurate estimate
- developers have made assumptions on certain feature requests without checking in with the client resulting in an inadequate deliverable
- the deployed code went by without proper quality check and caused issues on client’s site
- …you name it…
You have so many “incentives” to hide some of the mistakes you’ve done, to transfer accountability to someone else (especially if there’s some other team also involved in the project) or, even when you do admit you were the one that made a mistake, blame it on the unforeseen circumstances well beyond your control.
Guess what? None of that helps the client, and let’s face it – it doesn’t help you either. You’re still left with a problem to solve, and now you’ve created an atmosphere of a witch-hunt which leaves the client questioning your integrity.
What happens when you hide mistakes or have an “it wasn’t me” attitude?
- the client is feeling you’re not treating them as a valuable partner
- they’re afraid that there have been other cases where you may have hidden something from them or have shifted responsibility
- they will be hesitant to continue the relationship with someone they don’t feel is trustworthy and proactive in solving problems rather than covering for themselves
- your employees will learn this to be the way business is done in your company
On the other hand, when you own up to your mistakes:
- the client has confidence that you’re on top of things at all times
- they also trust you more as you’ve shown integrity
- if you also provide a solution soon enough, they’ll be there for the long haul
- you’re creating a culture where people are allowed to make mistakes and not be afraid of them (thus not having the “incentive” to hide them)
Usually admitting your mistake is as simple as a quick “I’m sorry, I’m on it.” – and if you fix things quickly, you’re golden. However, there are certainly some more difficult cases when it’s not that easy to face the client, especially if the mistake is a more serious one or things have already escalated.
Yes, at times taking the road less traveled does come with a price (we’ve at times had to write off some invoices or even refund some of our clients when we truly messed up), but in the long run there really is no alternative if you’re looking to earn and keep trust.
What about you?
Now, we’re in that time of the year when everyone’s wrapping things up and analyzing their business results, so it’s as good time as any to check what we’re doing in this regard and see if there’s room for improvement.
Which road are you currently taking? Are you considering to place an extra effort on creating an environment where people are free from the fear of making mistakes and admitting them?
It’s up to you to decide, of course, but let us know if you’ve had some examples of similar situations and how you’ve handled them.
And keep making mistakes, it’s good for you 😉