How Screwing Up and Being Honest About It Can Generate More Business

Joined
Jul 18, 2012
Messages
440
I had a client I worked with briefly a couple months ago. I had to make a few minor tweaks to his home page. I'm not a developer myself so I have to outsource most development work. Fortunately, I've assembled a great team of developers over the years. At any rate, I had one of my developers work on this basic project but something went horribly wrong. When he worked on the changes to the home page on his test domain, he put a meta tag in the header that prevented any search engines from indexing the page. Then when he moved the newly tweaked page to the client's domain, he forgot to remove the meta tag.

Because the new home page couldn't be indexed, the client lost all of their rankings - but the client didn't catch this until about 30 days after the fact. The client calls me panicking that they lost all their rankings and they have no clue what's going on. They want to hire me to do ongoing SEO for them.

The fact that their home page fell off the face of the earth didn't make sense so the first thing I did was have one of my ace developers take a look at the site. He spotted the meta tag immediately. I didn't even have to ask the developer that worked on it what happened because I knew. He screwed up by not removing the meta tag:eek:

The following conversation with the client wasn't the most comfortable thing to do but I had to do the right thing. I took full responsibility for the mistake and apologized. And of course it goes without saying I had the problem fixed without charging the client. I was fully expecting the client to either yell at me or possibly threaten a law suit. Instead, the client appreciated my honesty and appreciated the fact that I was able to get the issue fixed immediately. Because of how I handled everything, they rewarded me with a new development project!

I tell this story not to brag about me but to demonstrate that being honest and taking responsibility in difficult situations can lead to good things. Some consultants in my position may have been scared of the potential consequences and may have been tempted to lie or pass the blame to some unknown developer. While situations like this are unpleasant and cause a few sleepless nights (which this deal did for me), you need to buck up, be a "man" and take responsibility. If you do the right thing, good things will happen. I think they call it karma:D

Travis Van Slooten

P.S. If you're wondering what happened with the client's rankings, I got lucky. After being out of the Google index for 30+ days, I was worried sick their rankings were going to be lost for good. Luckily, the client's rankings came back literally within 48 hours.
 

Linda Buquet

Moderator
Joined
Jun 28, 2012
Messages
14,440
Yes Karma rocks and so does your story Travis. Thanks so much for taking the time to share it!

Being honest always wins out and it's really true that what goes around comes back around!
 

Marie Haynes

Member
Joined
Aug 7, 2012
Messages
127
I can totally relate to this!

I have had a couple of situations where I messed up but then put in extra effort to fix the problem. Clients always appreciate honesty! (At least, most of them do.)
 

Linda Buquet

Moderator
Joined
Jun 28, 2012
Messages
14,440
Hey Marie, great to see you posting again!

Did I hear you had a baby? Maybe that was awhile ago? Anyway so good to see you here again.
We've had a TON of important new topics added since you last posted, so dive in! :)
 

Marie Haynes

Member
Joined
Aug 7, 2012
Messages
127
Hi Linda! Yes, my little girl is 12 weeks old now. And, on top of that I launched a new business doing SEO consulting, mostly for people affected by Google Algorithm changes. It was kind of crazy to do that at the same time as having a baby, but it's working out well. I get to have fun figuring out Google and helping people while my baby naps. :)

I saw this thread on twitter and wanted to pop in and comment.

It looks like your forum is thriving...but of course, I knew it would!

Marie
 
Joined
Jul 23, 2012
Messages
484
Awesome story, Travis! Loved reading. Yes, take the high road in business! It will always serve you well.


Marie - congratulations on your new little blessing :)
 

Nick.SEOSpark

Member
Joined
Aug 4, 2012
Messages
361
Thanks so much for your story Travis. It's a reminder about why we are in business in the first place: to help our clients grow their business. Being honest and having good communication is one of the most important parts of the consulting process. It may sound self righteous of me, but I'd find it difficult to sleep at night if I kept something really important from one of my clients.
However, I know that there are people out there who would avoid uncomfortable conversations to "save face". I'm pretty sure that all of us here wouldn't do that though - We are top consultants :D
 

Jim Froling

Member
Joined
Jul 19, 2012
Messages
140
Most people, even clients, can understand when things go wrong. Though I've only been in this biz for a few years, my previous biz experience of 25+ years in the computer and consumer electronics industries provided lots of opportunities for "uh-oh" moments.

I didn't screw up often, but when I did... Most times it truly wasn't my fault (honest!). Other times, it was. Either way, I was the "Point Man" on the account and the buck stopped there. When I was proactive and contacted the customer with the bad news even before they knew it, I was rewarded with their respect and understanding.
 

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