Over the last 9 months, my household has been enduring an incredible amount of change. We have to hustle to cover everything that needs to be done through the course of each day, each week as we make sure this child gets here, that child gets there, and so on. Nothing any other family doesn’t have to deal with, though the sudden switch to managing those schedules for 6 children is a contributing factor.
A few weeks ago, a very good client of mine brought a new e-learning project to me. They asked for a quote, I provided it, and they sent me the script. In the mean time, we continued with the family transportation and scheduling madness. And when I had time to sit down in the studio, fire up the computer and get the job done, I ripped off the lines that were highlighted, edited them up, and uploaded them so the client in India was able to get the parts integrated into the project.
Ah, but there’s the problem. The highlighted lines?
They were not for me.
I received a slightly panicked email from the contact in India saying that they received the lines, but they were the wrong ones, and could I send the correct ones as soon as possible? After looking at the email in a bit of a stupor, realizing what I had done wrong, I went back to the studio and re-recorded the project again, this time doing the correct lines, with no small amount of embarrassment for what had occurred.
After uploading the files, I began to think about how to handle this instance. My mistake cost the client time, and perhaps even caused them to miss commitments of their own. I have worked on enough projects, both as a voice artist and an IT systems consultant, to know that slipped dates on projects are not good things. They cost time and money. And they often end up with the person who slipped the date in a bit of hot water.
So I took a deep breath, and wrote the following:
The files are uploading now, two takes of everything with MP3s and WAV files.
Once again I would like to apologize for this mix up. Because I value your business, I would like to offer you this project for free. Your delays have been my fault, and I don’t want to impact your business in this way. Please let me know if this is acceptable.
Make no mistake, it hurt to write this. I left money on the table (maybe even too much), and spent more than double the amount of time necessary to do it. But I felt it was absolutely necessary to own up to my mistake, and make it as right for the customer as I could. You always remember the people who go out of their way to help you, and especially those who try to make up for their errors. Once the problem was found, I felt this kind of damage control was not just a good idea, but necessary.
My client responded favorably, thanked me for the work, and told me more would be coming soon. Hopefully I repaired the damage quickly enough to retain them. Of course, you never want to be in this position in the first place. But when you do, be ready to make it right.
Nicely said GW! And I am with you — own up to the mistake and do whatever it takes to correct it!
Pamela Vanderway says
I think this is such a valuable story, G! We all make mistakes and I am with you that truly owning them is the best way to treat our clients.
Marc Scott says
I had a very similar experience. A client sent me a script and then within 10 minutes sent me an email with an update. They had forwarded the wrong script in the first email. I was to toss it and use the update. A new draft.
Somehow, when it came time to record, I managed to use the original script… the one they said to toss!
In a similar manner I apologized for my oversight and mistake and told them there would be no charge for the project as I hadn’t delivered what I committed to by making the mistake and missing the original deadline.
We’re all human. Voice Talents and clients alike. My client was more than understanding and have been back many times since with work. I have no doubt things would be much different had I refused to accept blame.
Doing the right thing, Marc….that’s what it’s all about. And I know this seems pretty much like common sense…but these days, there seemes to be a lack of common sense in many areas of the world…
Derek Chappell says
Very well done and great reminder for all George. Your credibility and reputation are worth much more than whatever you may have lost in dollars and cents.
Derek, thank you for linking in your blog!
Lisa Rice says
How does the saying go? “To err is human; to forgive is divine.”
Thanks for sharing your very human story, George! At least you didn’t pick up the wrong child or worse, forget one!
I have had a discussion in the past about seeing only everyone’s “good news” in the community,so I thought I would take a chance and share something that is not exactly positive, but is a learning situation we all have been through or will be soon. Thanks for the kind words, Lisa!
Connie Terwilliger says
Must be the week for disconnects. I typed a bad email when sending files to a new client and didn’t realize it until the next morning. The 3-hour time difference between East and West coast can play havoc at times! But we know that and usually are able to compensate.
Doug Turkel says
Call me an optimist wearing rose-colored glasses, but I see this as EXACTLY positive news. As others have said, we all make mistakes. You made an honest one, and followed it up in the most professional, responsible way possible.
Your integrity and conscientiousness set a great example. Sharing the experience on your blog lets it be a lesson for us all. Thank you!
Good point, Doug….it’s not exactly a calamitous failure. mostly just the cautionary tale that I know we have all been through, especially that burning “jeez, I screwed this up” feeling!
I think its always important to stand by the work.
It’ will always mean more in the long run.
I feel like i often take less money because i want the customer to be happy with what they get and
i also want to quote a good price at the same time,
I’m currently trying to find a happy medium, that will let me get paid what i need, and still be able to
complete the project with everybody remaining happy on both sides.
I think you handled the situation right.