What to do When You Tick Off a Client

Feb 19, 2014 | Brand, Communication, Customer Service, Professionalism

Ticked off businessman on the phone

So you’ve pissed off a client. Maybe you were late on a deadline or had a miscommunication. These things happen to all of us. Today, let’s talk about what to do when this happens. How do we turn a screw-up into a loyalty-building situation? It’s hard to do, but not impossible. You just have to be willing and humble.

1. Listen.

It is important for the upset customer to feel heard. Use active listening skills to hear the story. Identify what is wrong and why he’s upset. Don’t interrupt, and above all don’t push it back on him.

2. Acknowledge and Apologize.

Acknowledge the fact that you screwed up. This is a big deal. It is difficult and very humbling, but you need to call your client and explain what is going on. Admit that you made a mistake. Genuinely apologize for the error.

3. Solve.

Don’t stop at just telling him you messed up. Communicate the steps you are going to take to rectify the situation. Explain what you will do differently. Show your concern, and be devoted to making your client happy.

4. Thank.

Say thank you for the opportunity to make it right. Whether the client called you in a fit of anger, or you contacted him to provide a heads-up about an issue, thank him for his patience and understanding. Remember that not every client would call—some would just find another vendor or supplier, and you’d never hear from them again. A call shows that the customer still values your business and needs your help (even if he’s irritated). In this case, thanking your client also gives you the opportunity to solve the problem.

5. Follow That Crap Through!

Doing all of the above is great, but you’ve got a job to do everything you just said. You better get busy fixing the issue exactly as you promised. When all is said and done, follow through again by calling just to double check that everything ended well. Maybe talk about possible ways to improve the process so that these issues are avoided in the future. Thank him again—for persevering with you through the problem areas. Thank him for his business and loyalty.

If you take care of customers like this, they won’t ever want to leave.

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