Alright, so, we’re just a few weeks out from kicking off the “End the Year – End the Course” Challenge and if you haven’t yet joined the growing list, now is the time to do so! It’s high time to get yourself in gear, to finish what you started, or to start and finish, the career changing client experience course, “Designing the Design Process: The Foundation of an Exceptional Client Experience.”
But I figured that this week rather than having me talk about the course again, I thought I’d let Audrey Sampson of Audrey Interiors share her thoughts on it instead,
“Whether you’re a seasoned designer or just starting out, I highly recommend this course”
“It all starts with a process and Ashley’s course “designing the design process” delivers all the tools, guidelines, and helpful steps needed to build your design process with confidence. Whether you’re a seasoned designer or just starting out, I highly recommend this course. Ashley carefully considers all of the potential roadblocks and obstacles that are bound to happen in the process, and her organized step by step design process method addresses each potential obstacle and how to prepare for them. Thank you Ashley! I feel much more prepared going into each client meeting.” – Audrey Sampson of Audrey Interiors
And that’s what Audrey got from the course without the added bonus of the 3 LIVE accountability calls. So imagine what you could gain from not only going through the course, but also getting the added accountability AND more in depth discussions of the material along with a live Q&A. The opportunities are endless, right? Right.
So, join us by either purchasing the course here and jumping on in, or if you’ve already purchased the course and want to join, reach out here to let me know. And then, well, then you get to sit back for a moment, relax, and revel in the fact that you just did something huge for your business, you just invested in making your clients love you.
And seeing as you follow this blog, I’m guessing that that’s something you already work hard for. Now let’s just make sure that that hard work actually pays off. Can’t wait to see you there!
Begin & End with Your Apology
Alright, so last week we started to touch on how to, and how not to, say sorry. And we talked about how to adjust our apologies from a small mistake, like being stuck in traffic, to a fairly big mistake, like losing a client’s deposit check. And what did we learn from those?
Well we learned that in order to make amends for our mistakes and mishaps we need to begin and end the conversation with an apology, to possibly apologize one more time in person if fixing the problem means we need to see the client in person, and to add in words like “greatly” or “so” or “very” for bigger apologies rather than saying sorry multiple times.
But what now? What are we going to cover this week? Well this week we’re going to raise the stakes one more time. This week we’re going to take on something pretty awful. This week we’re going to take on something you definitely don’t want to be calling your clients about. So let’s go for it.
Bigger Mistakes & Bigger Apologies
Ok, let’s say that you and your assistant go over to a client’s home for a site visit. You’re updating the living room with built in floor to ceiling bookcases, adding molding around the space, etc. It’s close to being finished and you just can’t wait to see how beautiful it is. You walk into the space to take a look and your assistant joins you.
As she’s moving through the space, you say her name, she turns around, still walking forward, and runs into a paint can, tipping it over, spilling the bright red paint you chose…… everywhere. NO!!!!!!!!!!!! Yeah…. What in the world are you going to say to that? What in the world should you say to that? Well, I hope you never have to find out, but, hey, stuff happens, and sometimes that stuff can be really big and bad. So let’s find out.
Now thankfully the client wasn’t there but now you have to call and inform them. Your stomach is in knots and you’re sweating bullets, and understandably so. This conversation ranks up there as one of the worst possible calls, but, you obviously have to do it. So you pick up the phone, dial their number, and they pick up. What are you going to say….? What could you possibly murmur so that they don’t fire you on the spot?
Well you’re going to say, “Hi there Olivia, it’s Ashley Uhl. I’m calling because I needed to let you know that unfortunately there was a small accident during our visit today. A paint can was knocked over and some paint got on the carpet in the process. I’m so very sorry about this and we will of course take care of the repairs. It’s not an overly large spot, about 4 by 6 inches. So what we can do is have it patched, whether from any extras that you have, the store where you originally purchased it may have some, or sometimes they can even stretch the carpet enough to cut a piece for the patch.”
They reply with, “Ok, thank you for letting me know. We actually do have some carpet patches in the basement.” You reply with, “Wonderful. I’ve already called our carpet installer and he’s available to come out tomorrow at 3 if that’s alright with you to make the repair. If you’re comfortable, I can also come to let him in so that you won’t have to stay home from work.” The client replies with, “Ok, that’ll be fine. Thank you.” Your last and final response? “Of course. This was our mistake and we want to get this completely repaired for you as quickly as possible. Thank you so much for your understanding and I do greatly apologize for this inconvenience and mistake. I’ll let you know when the repair has been made tomorrow and will also send you a picture. Have a great rest of your day.”
Alright, so as you can see, this apology is bigger than our last one, but only slightly. Again we don’t want to go overboard. We still just apologized at the beginning and end, used the words “greatly” and “so very sorry” and we “thanked them for their understanding” (but only do this if their reaction is calm. If they’re super mad, definitely don’t thank them for their understanding as that can come off as either sarcastic or unaware). And if you see the client in person in relation to the repair, one more apology may be in order. If you see them for another reason however, you’ll want to feel out how they seem before you go in for another apology. Sometimes it’s best to just let by gones be by gones. It’s really a judgement call.
Actions More Than Apologies
Now what have we learned from our variously sized “sorry” situations? What profound idea have we discovered? Well, we’ve learned that when it comes to apologizing, not all are considered equal. You can’t just blurt out “sorry” at a client and expect them to feel better about the mistake you made. Nope, some apologies are better, some are worse, and some are just right.
And those “just right” apologies actually include more than just words, they include action. They include taking action on your mistakes. They include owning them fully. And that’s exactly what clients want. They want a sincere apology for the error or unavoidable incident and then they want to know what you’re going to do about it. That’s really it.
And if you say sorry too much? Well then it actually becomes an irritation to the client. It becomes exhausting and a bit awkward for the client to keep saying “it’s ok.” As now the client feels personally responsible for making you feel better about what you did, rather than you making them feel better about what you did. You know what I mean?
Clients don’t want to, nor should they have to, take on the frustrating job of making you feel better about a mistake. They shouldn’t have to act like everything is ok when it isn’t. No, instead, when you make a mistake, swallow your pride, embarrassment, and concerns of how this makes you look or what this means for the future, and focus your thoughts completely on the client.
Apologize, Action, Apologize
And the next time that you make a mistake? Well, remember the formula, apologize, action, apologize. It’s as simple as that. Sure you can add in the “greatly” or “sincerely” or “thank you for your understanding” or maybe one additional apology in person, but other than that, let the weight of your apology remain in your actions. Let the heaviness of just how sorry you are, be in how quickly, completely, and thoroughly you fixed your mistake, rather than just filling the air with more empty words that ultimately put the responsibility on the client.
And when you do, you’ll have a client who moves, albeit maybe slowly, from anger to adoration, over just how incredible you are, not only at design, but at the way you run your business. And you, well, you get to look, and feel, like the hero. And really who doesn’t want that?! I know I sure do.
Let me know in the comments below, do you ever feel like you say sorry to your clients too much? If so, I’d love to know!
And if you’re ready to do whatever it takes to end this darn year in a good way, then join us in the “End the Year, End the Course Challenge” here!