A while ago I posted quite a revealing and personal post titled : "I screwed up with a client, here's what I've learned".
It talks about, well, how I screwed up with a client regarding scheduling, took on too much work, and fond out too late in the process that I can't perform the job, with the customer ending up very unhappy.
I got a question on that post which I'd like to answer:
"I read this post not long after it was first published and it caught my eye. Not many people will admit to their mistakes, especially in such a public and revealing manner.
In a field where reputation is very important I am wondering what long-term effect this had.
How did it effect your relationship with your clients? Do you still think it was a good idea?"
How did it effect my relationship with the client?
The short answer is - it didn't. I'm pretty sure they haven't read that post at all, or if they had, they said nothing. I'd like to think that me owning up to my mistakes publicly would look as a good thing to my customers, and not a bad one. Still, many of my clients don't actually read my blog (at least not the ones who do the negotiation and contracts - the ones who are truly upset if I pull something like that ever again).
Was it a good idea?
I think it was. I've gotten some great feedback directly from blog readers and existing customers about that post, saying they really appreciate the way I talked about it. We're all human and tend to make mistakes. Every consultant out there had made mistakes with clients. But speaking from a purely marketing point of view, as a customer, I'd go for those who both have the skills, and talk about their mistakes - it means that they are aware of what they are doing, and I get more visibility into their thought process. If I never worked with a consultant before, this is something I would find highly interesting.
I haven't lost any existing clients, or potential ones due to that post (maybe this post will change that situation :) ) but even if I did, I'm not sure I would regret writing it.
If there's one thing a consultant needs to absolutely have its integrity. That also means owning up to mistakes. Blogging about them, is my personal way of owning up to them so that I try not to repeat them, ever.
I ended up giving that customer a big discount on the course they finally did take from me, but we have not worked together since. Still, we ended on a good note, as they seemed interested in more future courses I am creating these days (FIT and Fitnesse for example)