Today, I made a mistake. OK, that's not news. I make several mistakes every day. But today's mistake cost my company a client. More about that in a minute, first I want to tell you a quick story.
A few years back I had a call lined up with a potential client. About 15 minutes before the call was set to start, something went wrong with an existing client's website. A co-worker and I sprang in to action and started solving the issue. When it was time for my call to start, I dialed in to the conference line and we began our conversation leaving my co-worker to continue solving the issue.
A couple minutes in to the call, my co-worker sent me an instant message asking a question. When it popped up on my screen it took roughly 10 seconds to read and respond to it. I apologized for the interruption and started back on the discussion we were having. But before I could finish the first sentence, the lady I was speaking with says:
“Are you instant messaging with somebody while you're on a call with me? That is extremely rude. You have a choice, you can give me your 100% full attention on this call, or we can hang up right now.”
It caught me off guard and I was definitely rattled. I apologized again, quickly explained what was going on and promised her my undivided attention. We spoke for about 30 minutes and all signs pointed towards us being a perfect fit for her project. Later that day I spent an additional 90 minutes working up an estimate for the work, which I already knew was inside of her budget based on our call, and sent it over to her.
I never received a response from her. Nor did I receive a response from the 2 follow-up emails I sent over the next 3 or 4 days or the 2 voicemails I left. I have to assume that that 10 second blip in our phone call tainted her view of me and my company and she chose to take her business elsewhere.
Time Zones are Tricky
Last week I received a contact form from a potential client who wanted to set up a call for this week. I offered up a couple days for the call and she responded with a request for a call at 2pm Central on Tuesday. Simple enough… But I obviously wouldn't be writing this post if that was the end of the story, right?
Today at 12:15 Pacific, I received an email from the lady I planned to speak with in a couple hours. The subject was in all caps. I opened it to find that she had been on the conference line for 15 minutes and that she was hanging up.
I hate having my time wasted, so when I see that I've wasted somebody else's time, it really bothers me. I immediately responded and apologized for the confusion and noted that the meeting is listed as 2pm Pacific time. I offered to move the call time up to 1pm if that would be work.
Here is the response I received:
In light of the confusion, I do not believe your company is a good match to move forward with the [company name] Project.
Not knowing exactly how to respond to that, I did some quick research in to the email history to see where things went wrong. Where exactly was the disconnect? And then I found it…
I messed up. I somehow managed to miss the fact that the requested time was listed as Central time. So when I sent out the calendar invite, it was sent with the time listed as 2pm Pacific.
What should I have done?
As soon as I figured out my mistake, I sent a quick response to acknowledge that the fault was definitely mine and I apologized for wasting her time. I didn't try to salvage the relationship, I simply wished her good luck with the project and stopped at that.
I've now been stewing on it for the past two hours and I would love to get your opinion. How would you have handled it? Should I have picked up the phone and tried to salvage the relationship, or do you think I would have been wasting my breath? Did I dodge a bullet with both of these clients, or did I simply screw up two opportunities?
Your input is greatly appreciated!