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.