When Disaster Strikes, Strike Out In Person

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Mar 6, 2013

Dear Barb:

We were working on a confidential position to replace a company’s receptionist. When our candidate arrived, she announced to the receptionist being replaced that she was there to apply for the receptionist position. That is when everything went south.

This is one of our best clients. Now he won’t even talk to me. We specialize in IT and have placed five permanents and over 20 contractors with them this year. We took this receptionist job just to help them out. They also cancelled the contracts we were trying to fill. They have told five of our contractors that their contracts are ending at the end of the week instead of three months from now. I’ve sent at least five emails, with no response. I then left a couple of voicemails, and again no response. His assistant called me to cancel our open contracts.

We told our candidate this was a confidential opening, not sure of what more we could have done. You can’t control what your candidates say. Any advice would be greatly appreciated.

Devastated in Dallas

Dear Devastated in Dallas:

When something like this happens, you need to drop everything and go directly to meet with this client in person. Sit in the reception room until your client finally agrees to meet with you. (I once sat in a reception area for three hours.) Profusely apologize and ask what you could do for him, to attempt to make up for this awful situation.

Even if this person is still angry and offers no solution, he will remember that you immediately hit the problem head on. Sending emails and leaving voicemails, more than likely fueled his anger. Do not become defensive or offer any type of excuse. You need to focus on the best solution possible,  focused on the benefit to this client.

It’s never too late to attempt to personally meet with this client to ask what you need to do to help rectify this situation, again apologizing for what happened. I have found, when you ask a client for an acceptable solution, they often ask for far less than you were willing to offer.

You may lose this client for a period of time, but you need to be consistent in your efforts to win them back. The stronger the relationship you have with the hiring authority, the better your chances of getting back their business.

Barbara J. Bruno, CPC, CTS

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