When you first make contact with a new client, there’s smiles and jokes all around, and both parties are generally very relaxed. However, it doesn’t take much of a slip-up for all of that to go sideways! If a project is finished behind schedule, expectations aren’t met, or there’s some kind of communication breakdown, then client relationships can become very strained. Here are a few pointers for soothing these issues, and avoiding them in the future.

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Call an Angry/Upset/Disappointed Client

If things have gone wrong, and you know that the client’s aware of it, always call rather than texting or emailing them. Emailing and texting doesn’t really get across how sorry you are for the issue (yes, even if it was someone else’s fault!) as there’s no voice inflection. Calling will add a more personal touch, which will always go a long way with a client who’s not satisfied with the service they’re getting. Of course, if you call up and end up panicking or stumbling over your words, it’s not exactly going to instill a lot of confidence in the client. To avoid this additional problem, make sure you’re assessing different issues that can come up, and have a plan in place for tackling each one. When you stay confident and reassuring on the phone, it can do a lot to salvage a strained relationship.

Keep Clients Informed

When things have gone wrong, but the client doesn’t know and you have an opportunity to salvage the issue, it can be tempting to keep your mouth shut. While I see the logic here, I certainly can’t condone it! You might be able to retain a client by keeping them in the dark about an issue, and cleaning it up before you have to deliver the finished result. However, if they do find out about the issue, and the fact that you’ve been hiding it from them, it can be a massive blow to your professional reputation that you may never recover from. Keeping clients updated and informed is a good policy to have, pre and post any problems with orders. Of course, this can be quite tricky when you’re managing several clients at once, so it may be worth looking into invoicing and client management tech like Avaza.

Don’t Make Promises You Can’t Keep

When you’ve got a furious client on the other end of a phone line, your instinct might be to promise all kinds of great things just to cool them down. Again, I see why you’d want to do this, but I can’t condone it. It’s always better to under-promise and exceed expectations, rather than over-promise and fall short. This is an important rule for every facet of business, but is extremely important when you’re dealing with unhappy clients! Give them realistic timelines, and give yourself a little leeway to ensure you can deliver what you promise. If your clients aren’t happy with that, tell them what you could deliver, but put emphasis on the fact that you’re not promising it!