How to Recover When You Let Your Client Down
Mistakes happen. Errors get made. Sometimes, your security team doesn't deliver the protection clients expect. When this happens, tempers can flare and the morale of your team can sink to the deepest depths. However, failure has its upside; it is an opportunity to learn valuable lessons that can take your security team forward.
Your first step should be to apologize for the failure. Whether it was caused by miscommunication, an altercation that got out of hand, or a breach of a security perimeter, the onus is on you to apologize for not delivering the protection your client expected. When you meet with your client, allow them to lay out all of their frustrations. Let them do most of the talking. It is their opportunity to share and explain their grievance.
This can sting. Even more so when your security team put their best efforts into a project. However, it is necessary as it provides invaluable information for your operations. Every complaint that is aired is information you can use to improve your security services and management structure. Even if you don't agree with your client's statements, listen. You might discover errors in your planning, preparation, and execution.
Once you have completed your meeting with your client, sit down and assess the information with your security guards. Start by determining whether there were inefficiencies in your operation that contributed to the failure, such as team members not showing up on time, slacking off on the job, not knowing security protocols, or bad communication. Consider ways you can streamline your operations to prevent the same inefficiencies and issues from occurring again.
Whatever the issues are, don't let them go unresolved. Implement solutions that can help prevent the issue from happening again. This could mean making improvements to training programs, spot testing of security personnel or even investing in more effective technology. You may even need to put members of your team into a probationary status.
The Steps Forward
Dwelling over failure is a futile exercise. What you and your team did yesterday will not define what happens today and tomorrow. If possible, contact your client again and notify them of the changes you have made based on their grievances. Let them know that you have corrected the deficiencies within your team and that the problem won't happen again. Most importantly, demonstrate that you are willing to prove that you can deliver the results they expect by doing exactly what you tell them you will do. Eating crow is an acquired taste, but it is a taste that successful security professionals learn to savor.
If it is not possible to salvage the business relationship and the contract, then take the lessons you have learned and apply them to current and future clients. The business and operational knowledge of your security team will have grown, and your opportunities will expand so long as you keep moving forward. Whatever you do, don't dwell on the past, and don't let your team dwell either as the past is merely an anchor that will hold everyone back.
The ability to recover after a business failure is what separates good businesses from those that go bankrupt. You are not the first security professional to make a mistake, and you won't be the last. What sets successful security providers apart from those that have gone by the wayside is the fact that successful entrepreneurs use their failures as opportunities for learning and growth. The education and experience they gained from their failures propelled them forward and you can do the same with your team.