Digital Account Management: Own Your Mistakes

This is part three of a six-part series recapping my presentation, “Happy Clients: An Intro to Digital Account Management,” from Podcamp Nashville 2011.

3. Own your mistakes

Don’t make excuses.

Don’t pass the buck.

And, no matter what, don’t be defensive.

Just own your mistake. Apologize, explain how you’re going to make it right and move on. Your client will appreciate your honesty and your integrity.

My pet peeve

If you’ve ever worked within an account management role, you’ve probably received this email:

Dear account manager,

My website is broken.


Your Client

(Or something to that effect.)

You get the email, and your immediate, innate and perfectly human response is to feel a little defensive. And that’s alright. An email like the one above puts you on your heels a bit.

Your next impulse is to start thinking of ways to troubleshoot. The questions in your head include: what page are you on? What browser are you in? Are you on a PC? Mac? Mobile? Do you even have an Internet connection?

Whatever you do, don’t put it in an email.

Pick up the phone, and call.

If you put it in an email, you’re effectively passing the buck. Email is a passive means of communication. It is “turn-based,” and not inherently collaborative or real-time. In essence, you’re saying, “That’s a bummer about your site being down, but I don’t have enough information to help. Your turn.”

You’re putting the onus on the client, when all they care about is their site being fixed.

If I were in your shoes, I’d visit the site in a couple of browsers. If you know your client, you may know them well enough to guess which one they are using. Quickly visit a few high-traffic pages. Try a few popular bits of functionality. If the problem isn’t obvious, then pick up the phone and call.

There’s nothing wrong with needing to gather a bit more information from your client, but you need to own the situation.

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