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Dealing With Unhappy Clients

Yesterday we talked about expectations, and how client expectations can be “an offense waiting to happen”. If you missed the first part, check that out here first!

I’ve spent years working in customer service. One of my first jobs was answering phones and sitting at the front desk of a Title Insurance company. If you’ve ever bought a house, this is where you sign the 472,016 pieces of paper that say you owe the bank LOTS of money. In my two years there, I talked to many cranky mortgage brokers and realtors that were waiting for their loans to fund so they could get paid. It was never my fault that people were angry, but I did learn a lot about how to deal with someone who is frustrated! I also waited tables for four years, and have been called all sorts of lovely names, just because a pickle ended up on a plate by mistake. People can get crazy when they’re upset. Here are some valuable lessons I’ve learned about dealing with unmet expectations:

Diffuse the emotion

There is an ancient Proverb that says “A gentle answer turns away wrath, but a harsh word stirs up anger.” The worst thing you can do when someone is upset with you is be defensive and try to argue your case. When people are frustrated, they want someone to understand that they are frustrated – whether their anger is warranted or not. Hear them out, and then do your best to communicate that you will do everything that you can to resolve the issue.

Deal with it quickly

We often avoid resolving conflict, because it isn’t exactly fun, but making someone wait who has already been let down is not going to help your business. Attempt to attend to the matter as quickly as you are able to, knowing that this too shall pass.

You win some, you lose some

Try as you might to repair a situation, some people just want to be mad. Sometimes it isn’t worth the hassle and emotional upheaval – just give them their money back and move on. You might not be at fault, but what will the cost be to fight it? Your emotional health? It’s not worth a couple hundred dollars or more. {Side note: ALWAYS have a contract, and liability insurance to protect yourself}

Learn from your mistakes

Often we want to “fast-forward” in our careers, but those hard lessons are often what shape us, teach us and mold us into the business owners we want to be! Every mistake is an opportunity for growth. We are going to make mistakes, let people down and face seemingly impossible situations. Embrace them, learn from them and then let it go! Sometimes, the way you handle a difficult situation may speak more loudly of your character than if you had avoided it in the first place. Do your best to work with integrity – it’s becoming a lost art. You always have control over your own choices.

Do you have a story of taking a disappointed client and turning them into a satisfied customer? We always love to hear!

Shannan Painter is a newbie photographer who has spent the last 5 years working with the left side of her brain helping small businesses organize their accounting and taxes. She decided to take the big step and pursue her dream of becoming a professional photographer in 2013 after adding a third boy to her house that was already full of super heroes, trucks, and sports equipment. She and her husband, who is a local TV meteorologist, play pick-up games of basketball in their free time and like to take road trips to Lake Minnetonka with all 3 boys, and their dog Growler.  Visit her on Facebook!


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