Healthy Client Relationships: When $#!% Happens

As I was following the #ppcchat Twitter chat recently, the following question was posed:

This started an interesting discussion around how a PPC manager handles his/her mistakes when reporting to a boss or client. From the answers I gleaned 4 main principles to use when a mistake is made in your PPC accounts:

1. Get The Whole Picture

Often a mistake feels like an attack. The natural response to an attack is to defend ones self. However, to maintain the relationship, you’ll need to resist that urge and instead listen. Make sure you understand exactly what the issue is, how large the effect, and why it happened.

Further, remember that perception is reality. Your boss/client may have a different perspective than you causing the issue to be exaggerated in their view. Don’t discount their perspective, but acknowledge it so that as you move forward you take the appropriate steps.

2. Own Up To Your Mistake

The only thing more frustrating than the initial mistake is the blame game. Whatever level of responsibility you have in the issue, take ownership of that. Explain what happened and perhaps some why. Don’t make it sound like an excuse and don’t take more blame than you deserve, but owning up goes a long way in maintaining a positive relationship.

3. Show How The Mistake Is Being Fixed

Immediately after taking responsibility, I recommend showing how the mistake has already been fixed (ideally) or how it is going to be fixed. Simple.

4. Prevent It From Happening Again

Now that you’ve determined the issue, taken responsibility, and fixed the mistake, you need to put measures in place to prevent the mistake from happening again. This step is what allows you to move beyond typical customer service (fixing the problem) and demonstrate to your boss/client that you’re committed to not making the mistake again. It provides closure to the issue at hand and begins the relationship moving forward in the right direction again.

If handled appropriately, mistakes don’t have to be relationship & credibility killers. And, as a bonus, here are few of the tweets I like best (because they make their points so well)