Let’s be honest. Running a business is not always hunky-dory. There are good days, great days and then there are those days when you just don’t want to even turn your iMac (or PC) on, let alone respond to clients, especially when they are unhappy….
In this post, I wanted to cover how to deal with unhappy clients and 3 proven tips that turn unhappy clients into happy ones!
Identify why they are unhappy
In my experience unhappy clients are usually due to one of two things:
- unmet expectations
Design is subjective and it is easy to provide feedback or input based on personal preferences which is not always the best option. With this in mind, I always try to...
Reply/respond with a clear mind
It's easy to read an email quickly or jump to a conclusion because you think you can “sense a tone” in the email or message. But by stepping back and replying with a clear mind you will be able to take a moment and really respond in a professional manner. The last thing you want to do is reply quickly, unclearly and in a frustrated or fed up manner. That really won’t help you move forward.
Acknowledge their unhappiness
It’s always important to acknowledge the issue they have raised or acknowledge their feelings. I recently received some feedback I was not expecting and instead of replying guns blazing, I took a moment to appreciate their honest feedback. I actually thanked them in my response as I felt there honest, constructive, feedback will definitely help us both move forward in a better direction for the project.
As part of my response, I always...
Offer a solution
There's no point in acknowledging an issue unless both parties are aware that some action is going to be made, or there are some steps in place to move forward.
Therefore it is always a good idea to offer a solution, it could be to offer a few extra hours to the project, or to provide an extra revision round. Sometimes to help you move forward you may actually even need your client to do something - like some additional “homework”. If that is the case, like it was recently for me, explaining why you are requesting this will help them to understand the situation and hopefully help you both move forward.
One thing to always remember is that if you are genuinely at fault, there is nothing wrong in saying sorry. Admitting your mistake can help the honesty, trust and working relationship between you and your client.
3 proven tips that turn unhappy clients into happy ones
1 | Openly discuss and communicate with your client
Often misunderstandings can happen through email/messages that can be misinterpreted. Instead of writing long emails or messages, I always find jumping on a call/skype call with my client helps to break any miscommunication.
2 | Dig deeper into understanding why your client is unhappy
Listen to them. Make them feel valued and that their opinion matters (because it does!) and show some human emotions in your response. Unhappy clients are still human, by being honest and open, they will see you are trying to rectify the issue. This builds and reinforces their trust in you.
3 | Offer something of value
Depending on the project, or the stage at which the project is at offering something of value can easily turn an unhappy client into a happy one. Maybe a discounted invoice or a free revision round, whatever you offer make sure it is beneficial to your client and works for you as well - Don’t overstretch yourself unnecessarily.
Every client is different, they all provide learning opportunities, even the unhappy ones, which is why it is important to take the good with the bad and turns negative situations into positive ones.
Have you ever had to deal with an unhappy client? How did you handle it?