We’ve all been there. You look back over your tasks and you realize you made an error on something you’ve been delegated from a client.
Worse than that even, they come back to you with a major concern about something you were responsible for.It’s the absolute worst feeling, but mistakes at work happen! So you have to know how to handle them when they do.
I’d be lying if I told you I’ve never made a critical error on a client’s project, and I’ve learned the hard way to handle these moments.
Today, I’m sharing how to quickly remedy and move on from errors with clients as a virtual assistant. You’ll learn how to continue to build trust and confidence in your client partnerships despite your mistake.
SMALL MISTAKES WILL HAPPEN (BUT NOT TOO MUCH)
Now, the majority of the time the mistakes you make aren’t going to be a big deal whatsoever.
- Made a spelling error in a graphic?
- Included the wrong URL link in an email?
- Missed a task scheduled to be completed yesterday?
No big deal.
These are things that happen in business every single day, and your client will (or should!)understand that and simply ask you to revise the issue as needed.
The hiccup here is that these things shouldn’t happen all the time. Here and there it’s totally expected, but it’s not okay if every week your client has to send you revisions that could have been avoided.
Take your time on these types of tasks, be detail oriented and do your best to deliver it correctly the first time. Otherwise, constant simple errors that could have been avoided will frustrate your client over time and devalue your services.
With all of that being said though, no client will expect you to be perfect 100% of the time. So when these types of things happen here and there, don’t get worked up by it all because your client won’t either!
FOR BIG MISTAKES: START WITH A SIMPLE APOLOGY
I know that this is the most basic response of all time, but a whole-hearted and genuine apology can really go miles when you make mistakes at work.
If you immediately go back to your client with a lot of excuses and “it’s not my fault because….” statements, they’re going to be really annoyed. They are busy business owners who need your support, they don’t have time for excuses and work-arounds when things go wrong.
Instead, acknowledge that you made a mistake, ask for their patience and forgiveness and share your action plan to fix it. This will be your best possible approach.
Even if they are really upset about the mistake, your openness, honesty and reassurance that you’re going to do everything you can to fix it is going to give them comfort that they need.
WHEN YOUR CLIENT FINDS THE ERROR
If your VA client finds the mistake, stop everything you are doing and prioritize that client’s work. When you make mistakes at work, it’s your responsibility to the client to get it corrected as quickly as possible. That means making it your top priority, even if it’s on a night or weekend.
Immediately after you find out about it, respond to your client with your apology and include not only the steps that you’re taking to fix it, but how.
This tells your client a few very important things:
- You saw their message about the error.
- They are at the top of your to-do list.
- That a solution is in the works.
- What that solution is and how it’s going to be implemented.
Now more than ever it is crucial that you over-communicate every single step that you are planning to make.
Generally when clients know, like and trust you: you don’t have to explain every little thing you’re doing. This is not one of those times.
Your client needs to understand that you are taking every step needed in order to correct the issue in order to maintain the trust in your working relationship. When you share the solution you have planned for them and make them your top priority, it reaffirms for them that they are valued and heard.
Obviously, once you communicate with your client. You need to implement the solution right away, and keep your client updated on the progress if it’ll take time (if needed). Otherwise, let them know as soon as the issue has been corrected.
Following this process will help you move past almost any major mistakes you make so that you can continue a positive client relationship experience.
WHEN YOU FIND THE ERROR
This situation makes things a little easier, because you can take action to correct the issue immediately.
When you personally find the mistake you made on a client project, you can take the exact same steps that we outlined above – but backwards.
Instead of informing the client before you fix the issue, hop in and implement your action plan to correct it. Then send a message to your client right afterwards letting them know of the mistake (with an apology!) and outline the plan you already have in place to correct it.
They will be really impressed that you found it and fixed it independently and appreciate the fact that you were up front and honest about the mistake.
Like I mentioned before, virtual assistant clients are busy! Don’t forget that that’s literally why they hired you! They don’t want to deal with more than they originally anticipated, so they’ll be happy to know that you’re capable and willing to handle these things if/when they come up.
Plus, if you try to hide your mistakes after you fix them and your client finds out about them later.. You can say goodbye to any trust you had built in your partnership.
So just do what you can to be open and honest while correctly the issue as independently as possible!
AVOID THE SAME ISSUE: CREATE A PROCESS
I love systems and processes. You can ask my clients, I’m obsessed. #nerdalert
In this scenario though, they are essential to making sure that the same mistakes at work don’t happen over and over again.
When something like this occurs, take some time to consider whether or not you can build a documented process around it. This essentially means that you write out (or film on video) step by step how to complete the given task or project.
This helps you avoid skipping that essential step that was missed the last time that caused the issue.
If you find that creating a recurring and/or documented process around the task will help avoid it in the future – Communicate it!
After you fix the issue, share with your freelance client what you’re doing to ensure that you don’t have the same thing happen twice. This again, not only affirms that you are dedicated to being the best virtual assistant you can be, but builds their trust in you as a whole.
REMEMBER YOU’RE HUMAN
Last but certainly not least, don’t be too hard on yourself about it.
As business owners and virtual assistants, we are really dedicated to the success of our clients. So when things go wrong, it’s not uncommon to really take it to heart and feel absolutely awful about it.
Know though, that these things happen and as long as you do everything you can to take care of yourself and your client – They’ll feel that.
They’ll know that you never meant to hurt their business in anyway and that you’re just as human with your mistakes as they are.