When something goes wrong on a project it is never easy to admit to it. Especially if it is your fault or the fault of your team, it can be difficult to put the hand up and say it was us. The client will identify that the problem originates from you and you will fear that drastic action will be taken.
The best approach is to be open and honest from the start. Communicate the full extent of the problem the first time that you bring it up. People can take bad news and move on from it, but a constant drip drip does not inspire confidence. Think about the current banking crisis in Ireland, the drip drip feed of worsening news has ruined confidence. We can take bad news, but a constant stream of it undermines belief in a person, system or government.
If the issue is something that can be easily fixed then have it fixed and ready for approval, if there are options with how to address the issue, have these thought through and be able to explain them in clear concise terms. With this approach you are communicating to the client that ok there has been a problem but I’m on it, I have the scale of it and this is how it is going to be fixed.
If the client raises the issue and you are unaware of it, then they will most likely feel the need to vent, if this is the case then you will need to listen. Afterwards make it your number one priority to get the bottom of it. If you make any promises to be for example “back to you by close of business on Friday” then make sure you are.
Most companies stop at this point once the problem is resolved and the client is happy. Better businesses take it a step further and review their processes to asses why the problem arose in the first place – was there not enough testing? Were the requirements fully understood? There will be a deeper reason and it might not be on the delivery side but on the client side. Going back and reviewing your processes will help ensure that it does not happen again.
Taking a more robust and thorough approach to dealing with problems can strengthen a relationship instead of weakening it.