Dealing with an angry client

Good client relationships can be tested when a client calls you in a fury about something you have done or not done, or an invoice has been sent that they were not expecting. If you have worked hard at developing the relationship, the problem will be easier to solve.Angry Client

Regardless of the reason, or the cause of it, or whether or not you think the client is right or wrong, it is important to approach this situation with a client service mindset. That doesn’t mean that ‘the client is always right’ but it does mean that you have to give the client the opportunity to speak their mind and have a solutions focus to resolving the issue.

Here are our best tips, gleaned from the best in the business:

  • Don’t avoid the situation. If you have received an angry voicemail or email, make sure you respond, and as quickly as possible
  • Be brave and don’t use email to respond. Make a phone call
  • Control your own emotional response – do not blame, avoid, be defensive, or get angry as well. This will avoid escalating tensions
  • Let them vent their feelings without interruption
  • Acknowledge their feelings – for example ‘I understand you’re upset, I need some more information’
  • Let them know you are listening by short acknowledgements
  • Ask questions to make sure you understand the reasons for the anger, and to clarify what you may or may not be able to do
  • Find out what solution they want even if you personally can’t provide it
  • What is your authority? Depending on your seniority you may not be able to solve the problem straight away but you can listen and commit to having someone else call them. You can also do what you can right there and then , e.g. send a copy of a missing document
  • Respond as promised. If you have made a commitment to investigate and get back to the client make sure you do as you say.
  • Finally – reflect on what you have learned from the experience

The way you respond and take responsibility may be the difference between keeping and losing a client.