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How to Protect Your Reputation the Ethical Way

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You arrive to a job-site to find an already irritated customer awaiting your visit. You learn that their plant room shut down last Friday and nobody realized it until Monday morning. So you start to investigate the root cause of the problem and then it becomes apparent to all that your company is at fault. How do you proceed? The customer wants answers and they're looking at you!

Before you start to talk, stop and think. The last thing you need is for this conversation to go sideways. It's important to acquire the back story before you jump to conclusions. Ask questions, get the facts and stay neutral. Don't blame the company but don't let them off the hook. There is an art to staying neutral.You have to care about the customer and your company at the same time. It's okay for both parties to become emotional, especially if the problem was costly. Your job is to locate, repair and report the problem. Stay neutral!

So as the back story starts to take shape you learn that your company was recently on site no more than a month ago, actually they were the last mechanics to work on the equipment. Furthermore, they signed off on work that was not actually completed and because of that, 30 days later, here we are. You make some phone calls and discovered that the work was done to the best of that mechanics ability. He was under educated and could not have known that more was required.The customer is convinced that your company is at fault but your boss wants you to consider the company's reputation before you tell the customer anything. How do you proceed?

If you're still maintaining your neutral position on the matter you've clearly realized the ethical grounds in which you stand. You have a choice, lie to the customer to please your boss or be honest with the customer and damage the company's reputation, possibly losing the customer and potential others. It is a situation like this that you will find yourself in from time to time but it should not be a tough one. You should not have to damage your own reputation by lying to save your company's. If your colleagues need more education it is up to the company or the employee in question to attain it. If you do a professional job and have a respected reputation it is crucial to maintain it.Nothing travels faster then bad news and itís best if your name is not attached to it.

You've chosen to be honest with your customer and not speak a lie that they are sure to see clear through. You don't state what you don't know and focus on the solution not the problem. The customer is pleased that the plant is running and they will certainly remember that mechanic who promptly and professionally resolved a difficult situation.

As for your company,they may be upset thinking that the customer is slandering them for causing the problem. But in fact, because of you,the customer is also impressed by the company's ability to resolve problems respectfully and professionally. It's a win-win!
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  1. crocens's Avatar
    From my experience it is ALWAYS BETTER to say true!! And i have never lost client becouse of such situation.
  2. r.bartlett's Avatar
    If life was only that simple.