In the past few weeks I’ve witnessed some of the biggest spectacles starring the unhappy clients of coaches I’m acquainted with. Unhappy clients are bad for your self-confidence and your business which is why learning how to cope in a situation where you’ve upset or ticked a client off is important.
I have even been one of those unhappy clients in the past and the coach I was working with at the time handled the situation poorly. What ended up happening is that my respect for the coach died along with my opinion of her business. I later learned she had a spoiled reputation and many unhappy clients. Don’t let that be you.
So how do you deal with unhappy clients and ensure that you protect your reputation and your self-esteem?
1. Take a few deep breaths and stay calm.
The absolute worst thing that you can do with unhappy clients is to react in hurt rather than respond in understanding.
Just a few days ago I heard the story of a therapist who hurt the feelings of a client with an poorly delivered (and wildly inappropriate) comment. The client admitted to no longer wanting to work with that therapist.
In a rather abrupt and emotional moment the therapist ambushed the client crying and apologizing basically making the situation a 100 times worse.
So take a moment to breathe, think it through and then respond in understanding.
2. Listen to their concerns.
Most people when unhappy just want to be heard. They want the opportunity to get their feelings off their chest and to be truly heard.
Taking the time to listen to the concerns of an unhappy client is essential to smoothing things over. I mentioned earlier that I once worked with a coach whose service I ended up being disappointed with. I consider myself a highly reasonable person who does a decent job of managing my emotions.
So when I made the effort to reach out and felt unheard I was incredibly frustrated and disappointed. Nobody wants to feel unheard, but especially not by someone who they are paying good money to support them.
3. Don’t get defensive.
When you get defensive it really is game over. You immediately make people feel unheard and undervalued when you take things personally and get defensive.
At the end of the day learn how to view things objectively and do your best to keep yourself in check.
4. Take the lead.
By take the lead I really mean to take ownership for your part in the issue or at least acknowledge that there is a problem to be solved.
If you’re in business then you are in big part of driver of the relationship and it’s your job to confidently step into your role as a business owner.
Listen to your clients concerns and then step up to the plate and take the lead.
5. Do what you need to do to make amends.
The worst thing that I think you could possibly do is absolutely nothing when dealing with an unhappy client.
At the very least an apology is in order. If only to say that you’re sorry for the fact that the relationship hasn’t been working out.
Try your best to fix the problem and offer a solution even if you feel you’re in the right. And if your clients are wildly unhappy with you or the work you’ve done then release them from the relationship, burn the contract or whatever else you need to do to make things right and preserve your reputation in the process.
The coach in the example I mentioned earlier did not listen to my concerns, got defensive and then refused to make amends or release me from our coaching agreement unscathed.
Although in the end the only thing that ended up damaged was her reputation.
6. Release and let go.
If you’ve done all of the above steps and you’re still faced with unhappy clients then it’s time to release and let go.
Sometimes people will be unhappy and there’s nothing that you can do about it. You just have to accept that you’ve given it your all and it just wasn’t a good fit.
In the world of business there are going to be times when transactions and relationships don’t go to plan. That’s just all a part of the process.
So just be a good person, do your best, and release the rest.