The year was 1970, and Ryan O’Neal, as Oliver Barrett, lost the love of his life to cancer in the movie Love Story. I was also madly in love, and he was sitting next to me in the dark theater. I couldn’t imagine my life without him. Through my tears, the message of the movie resonated with me, and I promised myself I would always try to say I was sorry.
Recently, a client sent me a cancellation notice stating that he wanted to end our business relationship. We had been contracted to monetize his customer file, and we had produced less revenue than expected. Our companies had been connected through a recommendation from one of my long term business associates. Our sales performance was subpar, and we had under delivered.
As the Chief Executive Officer and business owner, and the one person ultimately responsible for our performance, I picked up the phone to speak to the client. My message was simple. I was sorry we had failed him.
I believe that life and business are intertwined. There are lessons to be learned from each and applied to the other. No one wants to lose anything valuable, personally or professionally. Because I picked up the phone to offer my sincere apology, the client decided to give us a second chance. I know that we will succeed this time.
Business is a continuous love story. We need to have our clients fall in love with us over and over again. As a partner, it is our job to continue to excite, delight and deliver results to those who put their trust in us.
Unlike the movie’s most famous line, I do believe that love means having to say you are sorry.