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If A Professional Makes A Mistake With Their Customers, How To Make Things Right

A colleague who is a Certified Public Accountant (CPA) had to reschedule an appointment with her two new clients, a couple who appear to need tax advice. Initially, the husband missed the initial meeting as he had to help take care of his mom, who had suddenly become ill. So, cancellation number one.

The CPA's new appointment was scheduled for a few weeks later, on Monday night, at 6 p.m. Needless to say, it's important for the appointment to occur, especially when it’s the second time it’s been scheduled.

About 30 minutes after 6 pm that Monday night, my CPA colleague told me she had completely forgotten about the appointment. In her mind, she had mistakenly thought it was at 7 pm instead of 6. Initially mortified, she felt terrible about her mistake and greatly inconveniencing her new clients. As she told me the story, she shook her head, saying it had been over 10 years since she last failed to attend an appointment made by her or her office.

Instead of letting things simmer on Monday evening, she immediately called her clients and apologized. And because her clients were relatively new, she wasn't exactly sure how they'd handle the news. Regardless of how this relationship would turn out, she had to do everything she could to tell the truth, so she said she "goofed" and apologized for the inconvenience. It was encouraging to realize her clients had no issues with the mix-up. Towards the end of the conversation, my colleague inquired about the health status of her mom. Thankfully, Mom was doing better.

The next day came, and she called her clients again and told them she felt pretty bad about missing their appointment. She offered to meet them at any time of their convenience – she knew it was critical to do everything in her power to make things right and steer the ship in the right direction. After securing another time, she purchased a $50 gift for these clients at a local restaurant. To go one step further, she sent her client’s mother get-well flowers, although they were not necessarily, although they were noteworthy and customer-centric.

I heard her clients were pleasantly surprised by her nice gesture. They weren’t expecting anything as they appreciated her honesty during the apology. Her clients had worked with other professionals for years and had never received any gifts or presents from their providers.

Some time has passed, and she still feels a little guilty about missing the appointment. I don't think this will occur for many a year. We all make mistakes from time to time. It’s not mistakes that will hurt your business or reputation, but rather, it’s how one handles things once mistakes happen. One’s character is not necessarily about avoiding mistakes but how we admit them and make them right. That’s king in my good customer service circles.

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