6 ways you can deal with an unhappy client at your creative agency
Every business will, at one point or another, find itself in some sort of a delicate situation with a client. We all know that it's unavoidable, but we still need to be prepared for it to happen to ensure that you both mitigate the issue hand and take advantage of the situation. Keep in mind that clients and prospects alike will notice how you deal with a negative situation, and in the world of social media this cannot be ignored.
Before determining how to address a problem, you should obviously look at ways to avoid it in the first place. But how? Think about your clients and their needs, and try to anticipate their concerns. An important concept to consider is that you should always be prepared and careful prior to moving a project forward. Do not start working if you do not have the right information available. An effective client/agency relationship always requires honesty in the creative process, including the agency pushing back if the client hasn't provided all the information needed.
One of the most common reasons for client discontent with their agency is a misunderstanding of their needs or miscommunication of their perceived needs. A poor, non-existent or incomplete creative brief can lead to this problem. (Learn more about how to write an effective brief here). Moreover, customers do not necessarily know what they want, they just know what they don't want, and expect work that somehow goes beyond their expectations and what they feel they could have come up with themselves. They want the work to be worth the money they are paying.
Tips for dealing with unhappy clients:
- Stay calm and be polite. Portraying a positive attitude matters. Try to use a positive tone and be careful with your words.
Apologize. Even if you believe that the issue is not your fault, say you're sorry. It's hard to keep bugging a person when he/she apologizes to you.
Reply quickly. If a customer is unhappy, deal with the problem immediately. Do not leave it for the next day. If you really want to help your client, do it right away and he/she will notice that you truly care about him/her.
Listen without being defensive. Do not make excuses. Listen carefully and thank your client for sharing their concerns with you.
- You may not solve the problem right away but if you show your effort and that you're willing to help, the client will be more easygoing.
Be honest and transparent all the time. Warn your clients about problems that may arise before they happen and clarify what you can or cannot do.
Avoid “yo-yo problems” - the kind of issues that go back and forward because they are not completely solved. This will only add to client discontent.
- A good technique is to ask a question summarizing what he/she said, showing that you understood the issue and are interested in helping. Listening will also contribute to defining the real problem and figuring out the solution.
Clients who have had problems with with their agency or other vendor that have been effectively dealt with actually tend to be more loyal than clients who never had any problems in the first place. If your company has done everything to solve the issue that arose, the client will know that can count on you. Remember, use every opportunity to build a positive relationship with your clients.
Use client issues and complaints of service performance indicators of your firm. Any information you can use to help improve the workflow and management of your creative agency is extremely valuable.
Do you have any good stories about an unhappy clients or issues to share with us? Please leave comment below with how you have dealt with difficult situations.