While we all strive to provide fantastic customer service to all of our clients, there may come a time when one of your clients gets angry at you and your company.
It’s a sucky part of doing business. I know when these instances happened to me, I could not help but take it personally.
So what do you do with an angry client? How can you make the situation better for both you and your customer?
Take a look at these suggestions, and think about this: What process can you put in place now to help you when a customer gets angry?
Preparing for the “worst case scenario” will make you feel more in control of the situation (which often leads to “cooler heads” and a more productive outcome):
Say you’re sorry, even if you didn’t do anything wrong
I believe when your customer is disappointed in your services, you should apologize – even if the mistake is theirs. It can be a bitter pill to swallow, right? Just remember: Saying you are sorry lets your customer know you care about your relationship, and that your relationship is more important than assigning blame.
Fix the problem immediately
In most situations, a client just wants the problem resolved – and resolved quickly. Do whatever you can to rectify the situation. Make sure to ask your client what he hopes the end result will be after you resolve the issue. That way, you can meet his expectations without question.
Give a refund
If it is appropriate to do so, give your customer a refund for the service you rendered. Again, this tells your customer you care about your relationship over anything else, including money.
Ask your client what can be done in the future to avoid a similar issue
While your customer may be ticked at first, hopefully by the time you apologize, fix the situation and refund his money, you can have a candid conversation with your client about what happened. Preface the conversation by stating you want to learn from your mistakes to improve service for all your clients. Most customers will be flattered to be asked for their opinion about how to improve your service.
Sometimes you have to sever the relationship
It sucks, but sometimes, you have to end your relationship with the client once you resolve his issue. One time, I had an angry client who used condescending and accusatory language, even after the issue was fixed, and that’s not something I tolerate.
Know your personal boundaries when dealing with your clients. If a client crosses a line, it is okay to sever the relationship. Give ample notice and explain that you aren’t a good fit for the project or job (in other words, make it about you, not your client). Offer to write guidelines on how you did your job so your client can easily transition a new person into your role.
As an entrepreneur, it is hard to let go of clients, but sometimes, it is necessary for your sanity.
Always remember your reputation is on the line
With every interaction (good or bad), your reputation and brand are on display. As tempting as it may be to fire off an angry rebuttal to your client, step back for a second, take a deep breath and think about the situation in larger terms. Is it worth risking your reputation to tell your customer off?
Another way to think about it is this: If someone was telling a story about this scenario, how can you assure you would be perceived as fair, honest and dedicated to customer service?
In a perfect world, we would have blissfully happy clients who always love us. Unfortunately, we live in the real world where people can be unhappy, despite your best intentions. Take each situation for what is – a learning experience to help you be even better at what you love to do.
Photo courtesy of Eric Kilby