I share a lot of lessons from my personal experiences on this blog. One of the things I have talked about before is that I have no regrets - for anything. People will often look at me funny when I say that or think I'm some kind of narcissist or sociopath. But, that is not the case. I have no regrets because everything that had to happen to get me to this exact point in my life where I am writing this had to happen exactly as it did. And I would not change it. That doesn't mean I don't learn from my mistakes of the past and if given the chance to do them over, would do things differently. It just means I don't regret.
As an example, I recently had a sad experience and a falling out with a coaching client over $200. It sounds petty and honestly it is on both our sides, but that is how it turned out. As a quick overview, I had a client that paid for a month of service, but decided not to continue and I agreed to refund their monthly fee (minus the $50 processing fee), which I promptly did the same day they asked. The transaction went through and I didn't think anything of it.
About a month or so later, they reached out to me to say they hadn't got it. It was weird, I had proof of it in my payment processor counsel. So, I had some diligence done to try and find out what happened and to see if the payment actually went somewhere. This took over a week of back and forth and was frankly, irritating. It was at this time that the client sent texts asking where it was, etc. This put a little more fuel on the irritation fire as this was taken care of in an honest and very timely manner, but they were now questioning my integrity and of those around me. So, after a few more days, I just said screw it and initiated another refund. Keep in mind, this is about 2 months now after the initial request. It went through and I thought all was well.
Some time passed and the client reached out again and said they never got it. I was incredulous, so I personally got into the system and started researching. It seemed that payment processes successfully, but didn't go through and I had another $150 in fees because it. This time we had the processor do research to see what was up and after a week, the client was reaching out again. We were over 3 months now. At this point, I let them know I would just send a check. I let team know to cut a check in the next check run and take out the fees associated as we cannot refund what we don't have. (You've probably had something similar happen before). This was a mistake in judgement, as at that point, I should have just ate the fees. More on that below.
This time, all was good. The client would get the check and things would be fine. Or so I thought. A few days after the client got and cashed the check, the reached out wondering why we had taken the $200 out. I explained about the fees that we got hit with and we took those out. I honestly didn't think much of it after everything we had gone through to issue a simple refund. This was my first mistake. I did not put myself in the shoes of the client or really convey the issues that we went through on our side to do this. And because I hadn't, they were upset. They said some things via text that I took the wrong way and I was just shocked. I had really been there for this person and had even let them know that I would continue to be there for them if they needed me, even without being a client. I never thought a relationship could get ruined so fast over a measly $200. It's just such a small amount to me. That was mistake number two.
$200 means something to someone who wants it. It doesn't matter what you think about it and after all the time involved, it may have seemed to them like a slap in the face - even though it was never my intent.
So, two big lessons.
1.) Always put yourself in the client's shoes and do your best to understand where they are and what they may be thinking.
2.) It's not about the money, it is about what it represents.
These are both lessons I know...and that we all know. But, we (especially me) are not perfect and sometimes we don't handle things the right way, even when we are working hard to and think we are.
One last lesson - don't handle things like this over text. It's much easier and better to do it with a simple phone call. I handled most of this via text because of how busy I am, but could have just stopped and done a 10 minute phone call and taken care of most it - including the final exchange where we parted ways.
I will always speak highly of this client and wish them well and hope at some point, they will see that I was doing my best to help them and get this issue resolved. I have no regrets about it because it reminded me of some great, timeless lessons that I need to keep forefront and will do so going forward. It's OK not to regret things, but it is NOT OK not to learn from them. Keep learning.
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