How to Deal with an Unhappy Client

How to Deal with an Unhappy Client

While we do our best at work there may come a time that you experience an unhappy client. It can be helpful to think out how you will respond. 

You may have received this feedback in person, over the phone, in an email, on social media or in a negative review.

This client may be unruly, demand a refund, leave a bad review or worse. It can be hard on us emotionally to experience this feedback.

The way you respond is extremely important.

First, take a deep breath. Honor how you may be feeling. You may have an adrenaline rush, tightness in your jaw, change of your breathing pattern or tension in your stomach. You might feel shame, embarrassment, angry, frustrated, or guilty. Honor how your feel. If you need to take a minute, take a few deep breaths to try to calm down. Then try to remain calm. While many times we can be defensive, there can be important information and feedback to what they are saying.

Try to get the information. Listen. If they are behaving inappropriately, you can maintain strong boundaries by saying “Please don’t speak to me with that language or tone.” Or “If you are disrespectful, I will no longer continue this conversation with you.”

If you don’t know the whole story, try to connect with them. Let them know that you are hearing their concerns and that you want to address this the best way possible to help them. Listen to them and what they are saying. If there are others involved, make sure to communicate with the other people to hear their version of whatever had happened. Try to understand where the disconnect or miscommunication was if that was the issue.  Keep in mind, sadly, sometimes people are complaining to try to get a free service.

If this is a negative online review, the only thing you can do is to have a well thought out and well written response. You need to be kind and treat them as if they were in front of you. Sometimes your response will discredit the review and can turn into a positive situation showing you care and how you handle the situation. Perhaps create a script on what you will say in response to a negative review. Then if this were to happy you can adjust and customize what you want to say here. For example: “Thank you for bringing this to my attention. I am sorry to hear you are unhappy with the service you received. We strive to please our clients. I will be contacting you directly with a possible solution. My apologies again.”

If you happen to receive an online review that is negative or mediocre from someone that has never even been to your business a good starter script for this type of review would be: “Thank you for your review. I see you have never been to my spa. I would love to have you come in and experience a service. You can contact us here to set up that appointment.” Some type of verbiage like that completely discredits that review and shows you care enough to respond and give them a chance to experience a service with you.

Sometimes these negative reviews are due to the client not following proper aftercare or protocol. If that is the case, professionally explain in your response that’s it’s unfortunate that this happened but that following proper aftercare protocols is crucial and unfortunately neglecting to follow the protocol can lead to this undesired outcome. Then you can offer to address it with a follow up or redo service if possible and mentioning if they have more questions they can follow up or you can in turn say I will be contacting you directly to discuss this further. People will then again see this client didn’t follow the directions and you handled it well.

Try to respond as soon as possible. However, we would recommend cooling down first to make sure you are responding properly.

Decide how you will handle the situation and come up with a solution to resolve the issue. Will you redo the service, give them a credit, or refund the client? If you will offer a redo service and if there are multiple service providers, it can be helpful to pick the right professional to help this client. Additionally, if the redo service takes place, it can be beneficial to follow up and make sure they are satisfied.

Make sure to be kind and appreciative to the client. Let them know you appreciate the feedback and take it seriously. Thank them for the opportunity to make it right.

Reflect on what you can learn from this situation. Remember that while the feedback may be truly how they feel, many times whatever just happened may have been the icing on the cake for this person’s terrible day, week, or year. Try not to take it personal but do take the complaint serious. If others were involved discuss the situation together as well. What can you do to change the situation? To avoid some confusion or frustration with clients try to always provide the proper expectations and provide very thorough communication. Connect with another trusted pro if you need.  Be kind to yourself. We are just humans doing our best.

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