business,  ethics,  personal responsibility

Fessing up

I made a mistake this week. I was installing a new website for a client and accidentally wiped out an existing site…. OOPS!

Not an unheard of goof in the technical world. Although, for me, it is usually a client who accidentally wipes out his own site and calls me in to fix it.

So what do you do when you make a mistake that is going to be obvious to the client as soon as he tries to visit his website? I suppose you could feign innocence. You could shift the blame to a poor hosting interface (why, oh, why, does any hosting company use an interface other than cPanel?). You could say you didn’t do it and the site must have been hacked. You could, in essence, lie.

On the other hand, you could fess up, immediately, before the client even knows there is a problem. That’s the route I took. First, I contacted the hosting company to start a ticket to get the site backups restored. Then, I contacted the client to own up to my error.

You know what? The client was actually understanding and gracious. I didn’t get screamed at. I didn’t get called names. And, less than 24 hours later, the site was back up.

I don’t recommend duplicating this mistake. However, when the inevitable human error occurs, I do recommend fessing up no matter what the potential consequences.