How to Deal with an Unhappy Client

We all experience being an unhappy customer at some point or another. Did you ever do business with that company again? Why or why not? In most cases it came down to how you were treated once you voiced your complaint.

As a consultant or small business owner, there are often times where a client is not happy with your work. It could be because there was a mis-communication, you were too tired to deliver stellar work, or expectations were not set properly. In any case, you delivered something that your client was not happy with and you now need to address.

Almost always when we are given criticism our initial reaction is to respond with haste and defense. But in the end, who does that benefit? Here are some steps that I think could help possibly salvage that client relationship and possible future clients that the client may refer.

  1. Give a concise, professional and polite response. Being negative or angry will not move the conversation forward and could result in negative word-of-mouth PR for your company which is never a good thing.
  2. Acknowledge that your client is not happy. You are not necessarily apologizing but acknowledging that they are not satisfied with your work. Use words like: I understand, sorry to hear, thank them for their thoughtful feedback.
  3. Ask why they are unhappy and dig for specifics. Because when it’s all over, you and your business will benefit from the lessons learned from the specific feedback.
  4. Offer to fix whatever you can to rectify the situation. You may or may not be able to do this but offering to do it will go a long way.
  5. Offer a partial or full refund of the services provided. Sure you may take a financial loss, but the lessons learned are far more valuable. Plus it extends good customer service.

Have you ever had to deal with an unhappy client? What did you do? Please share your comments below (but please leave out names).

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About Tracy Sestili

Tracy Sestili is CEO and Chief blogger at Social Strand Media. She is also the author of Taking Your Brand from the Bench to the Playing Field -- Social Media Fundamentals for Business.