Late last week I got a call from a service that targets photographers. They wanted to talk to me about their offerings, etc., knowing that I could send them potential customers. I was busy when they called, though, and couldn’t hear their whole pitch. So, the guy who called said, “How about next week sometime?” I said that would be great, and we set a phone meeting for 9am yesterday.
He never called.
More than 24 hours later, I have still not received any communications from that company. What do you think the chances are that I’ll recommend them to my clients? Try zero.
Zero for now, though I always keep the door open for second chances. Things could have happened and, if I get a meaningful apology, I may let them pitch me. But for now, I am one disgruntled potential income source for them.
Now before you go off thinking I’m getting on a mighty tall horse–one screw up and they’re out, let me tell you another one. I did a Test Drive with a client late last spring. In mid-September, this client emailed me saying that he was interested in doing more work together. I did not respond to his email until this morning and when I did it said, in effect, “I screwed up. I’m sorry. Please forgive me, but if you don’t, I completely understand.”
Now, I’m religious about returning emails quickly. It is rare that someone has to wait 24 hours to hear from me (except weekends), so this was a big screw up to me. I have set that as a standard of my service and I failed to meet that standard. Regardless of the why (there was a legitimate reason, but that doesn’t matter), I failed and I told the client I did. I even left the door open for the client to rip me one, as he would have had the right to do. After all, I let him down.
However, I received a reply from this client saying that he’s still interested in doing the work with me. Hurrah!
We all screw up. Things happen in and out of our control every day. We have to be prepared to accept the consequences of these “screw-ups” even when they are not technically our fault. When we are honest with our clients (and ourselves), take responsibility, and apologize as soon as the screw-up is noted, more often than not the results can be a stronger relationship with our clients.