When mistakes happen, and they will, it’s natural to want to shy away from telling your customer or client until the issue is fixed. The next time you make a blunder, step outside your comfort zone and tell your customer as soon as possible. Proactive communication, however bad the message and intimidating it may feel at the time, will strengthen your relationship—possibly enough to turn the negative into a positive. Here’s what to do when something goes wrong:

  1. Communicate– Tell them what happened. Let your client hear from you before they hear it from someone else. Did you order the wrong part for their project? Are you not on schedule to meet a deadline? Whatever it is, the sooner you tell them, the better, and they’ll appreciate that you kept them informed.
  2. Take Ownership- Admit you made a mistake or take responsibility if it’s a supplier or vendor issue. No one has time for the blame game. Take ownership of the issue and move forward. This helps the client let down their guard and focus on what you say in the next important step.
  3. Give Solutions- Tell the client what you’re doing to fix the issue. Don’t ask, “What can we do?” Rather, come to the conversation prepared with the solutions needed to resolve the error. And be sure it’s something you can do—or you’ll fail two times in a row.

Remember that in all parts of life, the strongest relationships aren’t built on perfection—they’re shaped by how we respond when challenges arise.