How to Deal with Unhappy Customers

If you are wondering whether you or your unhappy customers have a bigger effect on what ails your business, it’s probably a bit of both. But it’s not too late to fix things. 


Problems in business are unavoidable. And one common reason why this happens is that the business and the client are not the right fit for each other. That’s why finding the right type of client is crucial if you don’t want to deal with unhappy customers. 

One trick to finding the right client is to look at his or her mindset.  


This is best explained with an example. 

In the past, we ran across a podcast host who had a bad experience with an agency. And that experience left the host with a clear opinion of how some relationships should work. In particular, he believed that any revisions by the agency would have to continue until he’s satisfied.  

What he has is a narrow-minded approach that isn’t conducive to a strong foundation in a partnership.  

The host has the mentality that he would always say and do the right thing. Therefore, it’s on the agencies to provide their services the way he would see fit. Otherwise, they have an unhappy customer in their midst - something we all want to avoid. 

But since there’s no shortage of unhappy customers and clients in any industry, how do we deal with them? 

That’s the big question. 

A good way to start is to forget about the idea that the customer is always right. Some are, but not all of them are. Thus, there’s no reason to take it as a general rule. 


How to Deal with Unhappy Customers

The Customer Isn’t Always Right 

Let’s repeat this so that it sinks in – the customer isn’t always right. 

And blindly following this assumption can cause a lot of damage to your business.  

You may assume that this all has to do with your own execution, but that’s not the only thing that can suffer as a result. 

You see, the mantra about the customer being always right also sinks in the minds of consumers - they will start believing in it. 

And it’s not always a good thing. 

Think about it from your viewpoint…  

If you go to a lawyer for legal advice, do you listen to your gut, your instinct, or the lawyer? 

If you seek medical advice, do you feel the need to distrust the doctor? Or do you listen because he or she’s the expert? 

In these scenarios, you’re the customer. Even if you think that you know what’s best, you end up asking professionals and experts for assistance and follow what they say. The implication is that you don’t trust your own expertise in the matter. 

The same logic applies to other services – be it web design, graphic design, etc. Let’s say it’s a creative field. It’s not fair to always have a subjective element that gets in the way of doing the work. 

Also, a key prerequisite to dealing with unhappy customers is figuring out their mindset and approach, right? 

That’s why it’s also very important for you to understand that one customer’s dissatisfaction with your delivery doesn’t have to spell the end of the relationship. Most business owners make one of two mistakes in this situation. 

  • They argue with the customer and eventually drop them because they can’t get their point across. 
  • They assume that the revenue is more important and keep making revisions to please the dissatisfied customer. 

Neither strategy can yield positive results if you want to run a successful business and work with ideal customers. Chances are, you can’t please everyone you come across. And that’s not the worst thing that can happen to you. 

It’s much worse to accept clients that aren’t the right fit in hopes of increasing your revenue. What often happens in that situation is that they eat up all your time with revisions and changes. And you do a lot of work for free.  

If you want to have a successful agency you have to shift your focus to finding ideal clients and having engaging conversations with people. 

Sometimes saying no is the most important lesson we can learn as business owners.  

Dealing with Unhappy Customers 

You may have to do a few revisions and polish your work. But in the end, if you followed your client approval process and you know that you’re right about how it should look.  

You know that your work has the potential to drive maximum ROI and capture prospect engagement in that industry. And when you reach that stage, you have to point it out. You have to trust your work enough to defend your expertise and decisions to your customers. 

Again, customer dissatisfaction doesn’t immediately indicate a broken relationship. But how you choose to communicate your ideas will make a big difference. 

Just because your customer is wrong about something doesn’t mean you have to beat that fact in harder. A better approach would be to focus on why your expertise yielded better ideas for the project. 

Highlight areas where the customer had issues before your involvement. Remind them why they picked you and why they should trust your judgment. 

Open and honest communication goes a long way towards nurturing that relationship further.  

You have to try and assert or reassert yourself as the expert in your niche. But avoid doing it bluntly when talking to a customer who probably already has plenty of trust issues or delusions of grandeur, whatever you want to call them.  

If you start doing this, you’ll notice that not all customers are the same. You’ll see some people who can handle criticism and look at things objectively, even if they started with the wrong mindset. 

It’s vital that you offer enough detailed explanations for your choices. You have to provide reasons for why certain client requests wouldn’t improve anything. And the more examples you can use, the clearer the explanation. 

Sometimes, the best time to gauge, and even deal with, unhappy customers and clients is before you sign them on.  

If you find yourself in an argumentative place with people at an early stage of discussing problems and solutions, it’s not a good sign. It’s an indicator that you’ll have a tough time convincing that client to take your advice.  

The money may look good on paper, but you also have to consider the wasted time, the endless discussions, and running around in circles that are all likely to happen. 

The Three Solutions 

If you think about it, there are three ways to deal with unhappy customers.  

First, you can avoid signing them if you’re able to identify their mindset and personality upfront. 

You can also do your best to offer detailed explanations and show them what can work and what clearly can’t. Do this if you think it’s worth salvaging the relationship. As a last resort, you can drop customers with whom you can’t see eye to eye and make room for others.  

Then, devise a better screening process and select new customers and clients in a way that both parties can benefit from the working relationship. 

Remember that the likelihood of dealing with unhappy customers decreases if you get the right ones from the get-go. 

If you need help with this process, why not ask for help? Schedule a Discovery Call with us and get started. 


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