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Crisis Management - What to Do When Things Go Wrong!

It would not be fair to you if I only talked about the great things about being a virtual assistant, and while there are so many great things, we also need to address the not so great.

The reality is, no one is perfect and at some point, what we are tackling today is going to happen.

You are going to mess up on a clients account.

It is inevitable. It may be big mistake, it may be small mistake, but it's going to happen. As admins, we try our best to be as error proof possible, however, things happen and no one is perfect.

That's why this week I want to share with you the 3 steps that I have used, and continue to use, in my business to recover when either myself or a member of my team makes a mistake.

Before we get to that, I must emphasize that that recovery begins from a place of trust. Meaning, you need to have a nice healthy bank of getting things right and being awesome, to support you for when things go wrong. We will call this the Trust Bank!

You making a mistake must be something that is so rare, that your clients are surprised an error even happened. These steps, while still absolutely necessary, will not be as effective if you are consistently making mistakes and there is a lack of trust in your skills.

Ok, let's dive in!

What to Do When Things Go Wrong! - Step 1: OWN IT!

The first step on the road to recovery is to own up to the mistake - 100%.

Don't try to hide it. Don't try to fix it behind their back. Don't try to blame anyone else and don't try to say this happened because someone else failed to do their step.

At the end of the day, if you are responsible for the project on a whole, you need to own it's failure.

If it was a member of your team that made the mistake, as a business owner, you own up to it without throwing your team member under the bus. They still have to work on the clients account and that will damage their relationship. This is not to say the get away scott free, but it's something that is addressed internally, not externally with the client.

And here is an important distinction. This applies even if the client is unaware that the mistake happened.

As tempting as it may be to just "fix it" and move on, if you are building long term relationship with a client, it is important for them to know that you have their best interest at heart, even when things go wrong. You don't want the error to come back to haunt you at a later date and have your client question you about "what else" you have been hiding.

Which leads to Step #2.

What to Do When Things Go Wrong! - Step 2: Create an Action Plan!

While making mistakes are inevitable and forgivable, making the same mistake over and over again in unacceptable.

That being said, when you identify a break down in the system or the reason for the error, it is your job to fix the system to minimize the possibility of this happening again. Your Step 1 apology should always be accompanied with an action plan of what you will be putting in place so that it never happens again.

The best apology is changed behavior. So if you want to make it out of the error with as little damage to the Trust Bank as possible, you have to have your action plan ready to implement right away. In some cases, this may need to include a trip to the bank.

Which leads to step #3.

What to Do When Things Go Wrong! - Step 3: When Necessary - Put Your Money Where Your Mouth Is!

If the error cost your client money and it is within your reach, you should offer to cover the costs. This can either be as a credit on their account or covering the cost.

While I hope that your mistakes will never be extremely costly to a client, as those are harder to recover from, it is important - business owner to business owner - for you to take steps to make it right.

An example of this would be if the client asked and gave approval to you to book them for a flight a week ago before the cost of the flight went up and in your neglect to do so in the time provided, the flight is now $200 more expensive, if a comparable flight cannot be booked, I would offer to cover the difference.

This is a good faith gesture to show your client that you value the relationship and that you do not take the error lightly.

Other helpful tips:

Don't dwell on it. Once you have made your apology and action plan, unless the client themselves bring it up, don't continue to bring it up and apologize for it. Remember - changed behavior is apology enough.

Add Value. While you are always trying to WOW your clients, right after you make a mistake, is the best time to continue to add value and rebuild your Trust Bank. If you see an opportunity to make an impact and remind your client why you are so amazing to work with - Do It!

I hope this was helpful to you! Be sure to subscribe for the latest tips & tools for virtual assistants.

Until next time - be excellent!

Romaine Brown Palmer

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