We had just finished a project for a client. We were conducting a final routine check and would be bidding the client farewell and moving on. They were satisfied with our work. We were happy with how the project had gone with our team. Then we learned something was not done properly in this project.
As a business, we are very vocal about our transparency with clients. We want to hold to the principle of integrity in all of our dealings. That standard is always being tested. After being involved in this business for 17 years, I am always amazed by how often integrity is challenged. This was the case in this situation:
All was not well. Within the client’s internet marketing campaign, our team had set up too large of a geographical area. With the location not centralized, we knew our client paid more for their campaign than if the geographical area parameters were more narrow. We had already completed the project. Did it matter to us anymore? Was it our problem?
We took a step back to consider it. Without any doubt in our minds, we knew we needed to find out how much our mistake had cost this one-time client. Once we did the math, we found that the client had paid a sizable amount. The client was unaware of the mistake. We had given them the chance to review all of our work before closing the project. They hadn’t caught the mistake. They had moved on with life, happy with our work, and we had ended on a good note.
Furthermore, we weren’t pocketing any of the additional money. The payment went to a third-party extension of their website. Was it really our responsibility to cover this mistake? Yes, we thought, it most certainly was.
Matters of integrity are not always glaring issues. Many areas in business are not completely right or wrong.
Giving correct change. That is straightforward.
But even so, in this decision, we knew what we needed to do. Although the project was over. Obviously, the client had left satisfied with our work. Even though we were pocketing nothing from this mistake. Even though the client had no idea about this mistake and would probably not find out. We knew our mistake cost someone extra money. So what did we do?
We wrote a check. We apologized. The client thanked us, taking the check and changes to the geographical campaigning area. Not only did we show a one-time client that we would not gloss over mistakes, but the situation gave us an excellent opportunity to share with our staff.
My business partner and I had been telling our team in India that we are fully transparent in our dealings with every client. We have taught about integrity during development days. Now they were able to see our words become actions. We were able to show our staff what we often quoted to them: “Integrity is doing the right thing, even when no one is watching.” (C.S. Lewis)
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