Professional Primer is our series to help you navigate the tricky world of business etiquette. Read past posts online here.
Rescheduling a client meeting that’s been on the books for weeks can be uncomfortable, but when done appropriately you should avoid any real damage to your client relationship.
The important thing to remember is context, because how you communicate rescheduling with one client might be completely different from another.
“It really depends on the situation and on the contact,” said Bob Pacanovsky, CEO and founder of The Vation Group. “The first thing is to identify what the primary mode of communication is, then use that to contact them.”
Perhaps your client has told you before she never answers her phone, and prefers to talk only through email, or maybe would rather text.
Time is another important factor. Is the meeting happening today, tomorrow or next week? The less time you have to reschedule, the more immediate your communication needs to be. Even if a client has stated he would rather communicate through email, a phone call might be necessary if you’re concerned he might not see the email in time.
But no matter how you contact them, Pacanovsky said sounding sincere in your request can make or break the entire interaction. You might have mistakenly been double booked, thought the meeting was on a different day, or your boss needs you somewhere else at that time. No matter how it’s happened, make a sincere apology first, and then offer alternatives of when you’re available to meet again.
“When you’re the person who’s changed the request, you really have to try to be very flexible and meet the other person’s needs in rescheduling,” he said.
Remember, this probably isn’t the first time your client has had someone reschedule a meeting, but the way you communicate can have an immediate effect on your future relationship.