I don’t ever remember my grandfather being mad at me. I do, however, remember like it was yesterday when I heard him say, “I am disappointed in you.” Ouch. And coming from my grandfather? Double ouch. And preceded with the drawn out, clearly articulated, full name salute, “Phillip?” Forget the band-aid, I need stitches.
Same thing goes in business. The big difference is, my grandfather couldn’t fire me; your customers can and will if you disappoint them.
It really hurts when one of your best customers tells you that she is disappointed in you. It is such a personal, ego-crushing word. But I’ll bet that a little introspection would reveal that you deserved it. When we disappoint, we almost always have done so knowingly—probably not maliciously or with the intent to disappoint, but well aware of the risk that we were taking. The good news about that is, anything we do knowingly, we can choose to not do.
One way to avoid having to take the "disappointed medicine" is through proactive communication. Make sure that you are helping your customers solve their problems. Never assume that everything is great just because you haven’t heard from your customers. Assume the opposite. Assume you aren’t hearing from them because they are talking to your competitors.
Be proactive. Listen to your customers and act accordingly. Find ways to make sure that you are delivering the solutions they need, before they have to remind you, before they ask twice. Before they give the work to someone who won’t disappoint them.