How To Deal With Unhappy Clients

Dealing with unhappy and dissatisfied clients could be a daunting job. Read more on how to turn the situation around in this read.
Siri Kaliparambil
Jan 21

“We see our customers as invited guests to a party, and we are the hosts. It’s our job every day to make every important aspect of the customer experience a little bit better.”- Jeff Bezos

One happy partner will bring in three more with him, but an unhappy one can take away potential clients. The journey with the client does not end merely with the onboarding when collaborating to develop any software product; instead, it involves a huge range of factors and mostly the experience they have throughout the process. Any engagement has the potential to run into roadblocks and it is essential that there is a plan in place to mitigate such unwanted happenings. Clients have certain expectations when it comes to their project and it is possible that these are miscommunicated or misinterpreted by the team on-call. While this could be a disadvantageous situation, there are measures that can be taken to turn it around into an advantageous one which benefits both parties. Let’s look at some measures that can be taken to respond to crisis situations during an engagement:

Define the problem and apologize to the client

When expectations on a project are not met, there can be frustration and tension between the parties involved. There can be a multitude of things that can go wrong ranging from a change in client expectations to a need for upscaling the team and while it can be quite demanding to deal with such issues. In such cases, it is important to remember that the customer comes first and the next step should be to strategise an alternative approach to deal with the situation. The key here is to establish a rapport with the partner and identify what went wrong and apologize sincerely if the mistake was from our end.

While it is essential to always acknowledge the partner’s concerns, it is not necessary to comply with all their demands, especially if they are unreasonable. In such scenarios it helps to effectively communicate with the partner about the situation on hand and the best way to do this is document the process by sending out an email listing your concerns. 

“Your most unhappy customers are your greatest source of learning”- Bill Gates

Listen actively and communicate effectively

An angry customer will want to be heard and it is pertinent that there is a system in place for them to air their grievances. This is where the role of the account manager comes in and it is their job to listen to the partner actively and smooth things over.

Here are a few ways for account managers to manage dissatisfied clients:

  • Some of the most insightful perspectives you can get about any cons in your organisational structure could be from a dissatisfied customer. Hear them out patiently without jumping to conclusions and introspect what could have gone wrong. 
  • Try to put yourself in their shoes and understand their reaction from an alternative perspective. Listen without reacting and be empathetic to their situation while assuring them that you’re on their team.
  • It is important to validate your partner’s feelings about the project and sometimes it pays go above and beyond if it means turning an unhappy customer around. Offer to make up for want went wrong and offer them personalised attention to understand their needs.Timeliness is pivotal to great customer service and it is important to react proactively and keep the response time minimal. Any delay in response would further upset the client and it is important to document this process by sending out an email staking out how to find the fix. 

“Quality is remembered long after the price is forgotten.” - Gucci

How to compensate an unhappy client?

You haven’t managed to build up that quality product which met your partner’s expectations and they have vocalised their displeasure to you. Now that you have established what went wrong, the next step is to find a fix for the situation and find a way to win your client back. Own up to your mistake and show how sorry you are by offering them a solution which can compensate for their losses. Assess the situation and the work that has been done to strategise accordingly and see if any restructuring needs to be conducted internally to provide a talent boost to the development process. Stake out a recovery plan after discussing with your team about what went wrong during the development process and define what actions can be taken to get around the situation. 

Maintain a customer-centric approach and consistently ask for feedback to understand their vision for the application better while constantly checking to see how you can improve the development process. It also helps to provide a concession for any additional features that they might require if it is an affordable decision and both parties are able to find a middle ground which is not heavy on the pocket. 

Conclusion

Dealing with unhappy partners is all about customer service and it is the magic formula to turn a bad situation into a positive one, not only for you but your clients as well. A deal gone wrong will not only cause the client to take the project and their money somewhere else, but this will have a negative impact on your business and it can affect how your brand is perceived in the future.

Customer satisfaction should be the main focus of a business as it hugely increases your chances of being referred by them as well as getting recurring business. I hope this article has given you an insight on how to proactively communicate and act in a timely manner to deal with unhappy clients.