Defusing an unhappy client
Quite possibly one of the worst parts of contracting or freelancing is when you’ve put your best into a contract, only for the client to be upset or dissatisfied with your work. Clearly at some point something has gone wrong and, whilst it may not be you that caused it, you’re left to pick up the pieces and salvage what’s left of the working relationship.
Hopefully you’ll never need this blog, but should you ever find yourself in this situation we’ve devised 5 steps to take, to help turn the situation around.
Step 1 – Keep calm and carry on
A tough step to begin with, especially when your talent and professionalism is being questioned, but one which you must start negotiations off with. Remember that as soon as you lose your temper you’ve also lost your ability to argue your case, so keep a level head when discussing the issue with your client.
Let them tell you how they’re feeling and take notes, as this will help you to understand what the issue is and how to prevent it from happening in the future. By remaining neutral during this time you’ll also be demonstrating to your client that you’re willing to hear their side of the story, that you’re able to listen, and that you’ve remained professional throughout.
Step 2 – What’s the problem?
Whatever the issue is, you must get to the root of why they are unhappy. In this industry reputations precede contractors, therefore if you wish to continue contracting in the future you must make amends with your current client before moving on. After all, you never know who they may know or what influence they could have on you in future.
At some point during the contract your expectations did not meet theirs, so ensure you identify when and why this happened, and who the blame lies with.
Step 3 – Is there a solution?
If you have fulfilled your side of the contract exactly as requested and have no reason to offer a solution, then you must let the client know this at this stage.
If you have made a mistake, as we all do from time to time, apologise and offer a solution. Whatever this may be (rectifying the issue or maybe offering a refund) consider what value the client holds to you professionally, your reputation and whether doing extra work is worth it in the end.
Step 4 – Find out what they’re thinking
If you do rectify the issue, ensure you ask your client whether you have satisfied their expectations as soon as you have completed the work.
We’re not suggesting you grovel to your client, but once they believe the contract has been completed it’s never a bad idea to apologise once more. After all, you’ve admitted your mistakes, rectified the issue and then apologised – there’s not much else you could have done!
Step 5 – Learn from the experience
Now that the issue is in the past, it’s time to consider what’s happened, what it has taught you and how to ensure it doesn’t happen again.
Even clients can get it wrong sometimes (although we doubt they’re more forthcoming when admitting their faults!) so it’s worth taking a step back to see how this experience has made you a better Limited Company contractor. After all, what doesn’t kill you makes you stronger!
Have you dealt with an unhappy client before?
If the answer is ‘yes’, what tips do you have that helped defuse the situation? Share them with us, your contracting colleagues will thank you, especially if they ever have to use one!
This blog has been prepared by Intouch Accounting. While we have made every attempt to ensure that the information contained in this blog has been obtained from reliable sources, Intouch is not responsible for any errors or omissions, or for the results obtained from the use of this information. This blog should not be used as a substitute for consultation with professional accounting advisers. If you have any specific queries, please contact Intouch Accounting.