In 30+ years in services and after hundreds and hundreds of projects, I learned that sh*t happens.
Sh*t happens for a lot of reasons.
“Stercus accidit.” ― David Hume
When sh*t happens, and it will, it is not about finding blame or fault or denial or hiding or ... It just "is."
Dancing, yelling, and stomping, won't change the "is" of what happened.
Whose fault? If it is your fault, stand tall and say, "we did that!" and be accountable for your actions. There's nothing more disarming than looking your client right in the eye and fessing up.
It's cathartic. Although they may still be pissed off, they'll respect you for your fortitude and willingness to be accountable. Your accountability will separate you fro 99% of the pack of other service providers.
Their fault? If it is not your fault, help your client find a solution. Get involved. Become a part of the solution. Take that deep breath; isolate their options; weigh the risks, and take action. Oh, and help them to avoid having it happen again.
"I try to be good in the world not out of fear for hell or reward of heaven, but it feels better not being an asshole." - unknown
Get closure on your client project... not on the relationship.
You’re done. The project is finished. Like a star on the dusky sky, it is shining for all to see and say, “wow!”
However, you are the only one who knows you are done.
Your client and their team members may all be sitting in a lonely, darkened conference room waiting for you to show up and do three more things.
Aren’t they going to be disappointed when they discover that you have left the building?
Prepare your client. As you approach the end of your project, take the time to make sure your client knows the end is near. When they see the end is approaching, they can prepare for it. You have that opportunity to help them with that process.
"Those who plan do better than those who do not plan, even though they rarely stick to their plan.” – Winston Churchill
Loaves and Fishes. You can help them “learn to fish” and avoid the trap of having to depend on you to fish for them .. forever and ever. Take the time to make sure that all levels of individuals involved in your project know it is coming to an end.
Surprise no one.
The airport. Never leave the building without asking, “what’s next?” of your client. Is there another phase? Is there a supplemental set of training you can offer? Is there a recommendation on the next set of steps step you’ve seen other clients take?
“Good business leaders create a vision, articulate the vision, passionately own the vision, and relentlessly drive it to completion.” – Jack Welch
Get closure. Let closure occur with an agreement that you are indeed done, the project was delivered successfully, the client is ecstatic, and you’ve helped them plan what is next.
Oh, and get that in writing.