When Things Go Wrong

Customer engagement is easy when things go well. And of course, it’s a key account manager’s job to help ensure things do go well. But it’s also their job to build long-term, strategic relationships with their clients—and the truth is, in any long-term relationship, things will inevitably, occasionally go wrong.

In this article, the author asserts what matters most is how you communicate with your customers:

  • Use a ‘yes, AND’ approach – acknowledge your team’s role in the mistake. Then, once things are settled, use the “AND” in your “yes, AND” to communicate how important it is to receive timely, consolidated feedback in order to meet bigger deadlines.
  • Listen with the intent to serve – listen with your full attention and validate your client’s experience without any defense. Then, Focus on how you can solve the issue moving forward, and not only will you rectify the situation.
  • Take accountability (including financial) where appropriate – Some clients are so valuable that swallowing a few costs as a result of a mistake is more than worth it to keep the client happy. And if it’s partly your client’s fault, you may still want pay the rush fees anyway to make sure everything works out in the end as a gesture of goodwill.
  • Walk away with documented action items and deadlines for all parties – At the end of all of this, both you and your client should walk away with clear next steps and deadlines.

Anybody can communicate with a happy client; it takes skill and empathy to communicate with an unhappy client, and turn the conversation in a positive direction without dismissing their real concerns.

January 19, 2022