It is a very common thing for us to get comments after we have worked on a clients site along the lines of “Since you did X with our site Y no longer works, you touched it last”.
It sparks a deep seated human reaction when you get criticism like this, but I’ve trained myself and my team to handle these situations like this.
Don’t Be Defensive to “You Touched It Last”
I’m working hard on this, but it’s a natural reaction to immediately go on the defensive when your work is questioned.
Whenever I get an email like this the defences still go up, my mind goes something like this “How can adding a contact form possibly impact the colours of their about page button”. I’m immediately thinking it’s not us why should I give over our precious time to help.
It’s a natural thing, the emails come across to us as a criticism, even though it is really a call for “Help!!!”.
Now, I put the email aside for a moment, go and do another task, make a cup of tea and let the initial adrenaline spike go. Then I address the problem.
The first thing I do when we get a “you touched it last” is to take ownership of the problem.
We do this because customer service is important our client wants a fix not a “pass the buck”.
I say take ownership with a caveat, I’ve had “you touched it lasts” along the lines of six months ago you did Y and now X has broken. I will add the caveat that we are happy to roll back the changes we have made and test to see if it is causing the issues, but other things could have caused the problem. Take ownership but at the same time don’t be a doormat.
Roll Back The Changes
You did take a full recoverable back before you made the changes didn’t you :)? I’ve said it before but I’ll say it again you are only as good as your last backup. I hammer this into my team in our processes and procedures, the first thing we ever do is take a backup.
If possible we do our work on a cloned staging site so we can test in development before making things live.
Roll back to a point in time before the changes were made and test to see if the situation still exists. If it does not our changes were to NOT blame, if the issues goes away …
Fess Up If We Have caused An Problem
We never try to cover up an issues we have introduced, we “fess” up to the problem and plan a solution to fix the issue whilst also fixing the original tech support call.
Trying to cover our ass with excuses and double speak never works, we own our mistakes and fix them.
Find A Solution
Even if we did not cause the issue, the client still has a problem, our job is to find a solution not pass the buck.
We will trouble shoot the problem find what is causing the issue, if it is commercially viable we will fix it for free, then re-apply our new changes, if not we can give the client an idea of the cost to fix the problem.
Just to reiterate if we caused the problem we fix it free of charge.
Too often companies try to pass the buck if it’s not their issue (I’m looking at you hosting companies) our thinking is if we can help, our client, they will come back for more work in the future, if we try to pass the buck it leave a nasty taste in our client’s mouth.
Put Yourself in your Clients Shoes
If you are a the subject matter expert it’s all to easy to see that your work could not possibly have impacted another area, but your client needs your expertise to see this, all they see are your sticky finger prints all over their X and now something is not working.
How To Give Out You Touched It last Feedback.
If you are ever in the position to give feedback to an employee or supplier in a “you touched it last” scenario, can I make a suggestion?
To make the fix as painless as possible for everyone involved, don’t go on the attack with pointy e-fingers and acidic emails. Simply say we noticed an issues after the last update, can you roll it back to see if the changes have caused that problem.
It’s neutral non-accusational and it stops the fight or flight response in the recipient of the email and you will get better results.
It’s not nice to have your professionalism questioned, but at the end of the day you are the expert and your client has a problem, step up and fix it, is my motto ( well that’s not 100% true it’s Carpe Pizza but that doesn’t end the blog post very well).