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6 Ways to Save The Relationship with Your Customer If You Know That You’ll Miss a Big Deadline

HomeEducational6 Ways to Save The Relationship with Your Customer If You Know...

Whether it’s a traditional deadline for a written project, or an appointment to fix a customer’s air conditioner, there are always some things that must be done by a certain time.

No matter what your industry or what type of deadlines you have, occasionally, you’re going to miss one. It may be because of poor planning, or it may be because the necessary part was backordered, but no matter the reason, you have to fix it.

Assume Responsibility

The first thing you need to do is realize that regardless of the circumstances causing you to miss your deadline, you are responsible for it.

Even if it is not truly your fault, or even when it is, it’s your duty to fix the mistake and deal with the consequences.

Even if you’re going to have to spend money on expedited shipping to order the part from another supplier, or if it means you’re going to run on 4 hours of sleep for the next 6 days while you put everything you’ve got into completing the project, you are ultimately responsible for dealing with the current problem.

Admit the Problem as Soon as You Know It

The next thing you need to do is to let the customer know as soon as you have the slightest inkling that you might miss the deadline.

Letting them know sooner is always going to be better than later, and the last thing you want to do is miss the deadline and wait for them to call you. In some cases, you might manage to pull off the deadline, and you’ll come off better than before.

In cases where you do end up failing to meet the obligation, you’ve given them ample opportunity to make other arrangements or reschedule their own commitments.

customer relationships

Apologize, But Don’t Make Excuses

It is critical that you express remorse for failing to meet the deadline that you agreed to. At the same time, your customer doesn’t care why you’re missing the deadline.

“My child is sick” or “my dog ate a garden hose and had emergency surgeryare your problems– not theirs.

You should have built time into your schedule to deal with competing priorities.

The only exception is when there is a truly un-planned catastrophe that may prevent you from completing the work. “My town was hit by a tornado and I’m living in an emergency shelter and we don’t know when we will be allowed to return home” might be an acceptable excuse.

Establish A New Deadline and Offer a Concession

You should have an estimate of when you can complete the work. “I’m sorry that I won’t have it in by close of business today, but I will have it to you no later than noon tomorrow.

I’ve also included an outline of the highlights for you to review.” This way, you’ve given them an opportunity to preview the work and told them when to expect the rest.

In the case of a missed installation appointment, you can offer to give them 20% off the labor cost as a gesture of goodwill if they reschedule with you.

Meet (or Beat!) the New Deadline

If your customer has been gracious enough to allow you the extension, do not miss the new deadline. Cancel your social plans, rearrange the rest of your schedule, and stay off your social media accounts until you’ve completed the work.

If your customer sees that you’ve tweeted about the fantastic movie you saw when you should have been working on fixing their problem, there will be no saving the relationship.

Apologize Again and Explain Corrective Action

When you do complete the work, reiterate your apology and explain how you intend to prevent future problems.

“Again, I am so sorry that this is late. I wanted to let you know that I’ve purchased some new electrical contractor software to help me manage my appointments and inventory so that I don’t wind up with back-ordered parts in the future.”

This can help to reassure your customer that problems like this won’t occur in the future.

Once you’ve worked through the problem of the missed deadline by following the above tips, a reasonable customer should look past the mistake and towards the quality of your work. Then you just need to make sure that it doesn’t happen again.

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Evie Cooper
Evie Cooper
Evie Cooper is a project manager and a team leader, working at online data libraries like Postcode Checker. Particularly interested in increasing one's career opportunities, Evie is often online, sharing her career, management, and education tips with both employees and job-seekers. Feel free to reach out to her on @CooperEviee.

2 COMMENTS

  1. People outsource tasks to others and expect them to be done on time. They think of service providers less like people and more like machines – they want a “set it and forget it” type atmosphere surrounding the work they need done. Sometimes, things happen. Service providers cannot meet an important deadline, sometimes due to faulty scheduling and sometimes due to outside factors beyond their control.

    Anyways, read the below. This might help.
    http://www.namasteui.com/save-the-relationship-with-your-customer/


    Regards,
    Sourav Basak
    Namaste UI

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