We have all had “those” orders. We dotted all of our “i’s” and crossed all of our “t’s” by following our system. The client received and approved every detailed step of the order. We went happily into production and moved along to the next project. Then the order is delivered and we get the dreaded phone call. “This is not what I wanted!”

Now what? If indeed you have carefully followed your process and all the order details were provided to the client and approved, then the burden truly is the client’s. No one likes this situation but it doesn’t have to end badly. You have some choices.

First, assess this client. If it’s NOT an ideal client (you know the ones – they complain all the time, they make you cringe when they call, and you put off doing their orders as long as you can because you don’t want to work with them), then this is an opportunity to stand your ground. Politely remind them that they did indeed approve every step of the process and that you have completed the work exactly as it was ordered. You are so sorry, but unfortunately, there is nothing you can do to help. This may cause you to lose the client, but hey. You didn’t really like working with them anyway!

However, if it’s one of your favorite, profitable clients, then it’s a no-brainer. You are going to make this situation right. Before you do anything, put in a call to the supplier to let them know there’s a situation. See what the supplier is willing to do to help you with resolving the problem. Once you have that information, you can contact the client to have a friendly chat, something like this:

“Hi (client name), I am so sorry that during the order and art approval process, the color of the bag was not noticed before the order was approved. (This is a subtle way to gently remind the client that you executed the job as it was ordered and that you did not make a mistake.) However, it’s very important to me that my clients are satisfied with the products I provide. What can I do to make this right for you? (Then stop talking and wait for the reply. This key! And it can be the hardest part because we all want to talk our way out of things!)

Wait for the client to tell you what he/she is willing to accept to resolve the situation. You might be surprised at what they suggest. Sometimes a discount is good enough. Or they might ask you to re-do the job. If this is a top client, you do it. The long-term relationship and loyalty you create will offset the temporary loss. Hopefully, your supplier has offered to help you with the pricing to re-do the job so the loss is not as great (which is why you called them first, to see if you could handle paying for redoing the order).

Once the client has the reorder and is happy, ask for a testimonial. Rarely will a client not give one at this point as they should be very happy at how you took such good care of them and their situation. Add that testimonial to your website (with the client’s permission, of course) and your social media marketing sites like your Facebook fan page. That testimonial will be a powerful selling tool for you for your prospects turning a problem into an opportunity for future success.