Dealing With Client Disappointment

reading-at-computerWhether you sell elearning courses, instructional designer services, or other forms of consulting, there will inevitably be a time when you come across client or customer who just is not happy.

As an entrepreneur I can tell you that these situations are never fun – especially if the person who is unhappy is also angry.

You will find that your first reaction in these situations is to become defensive. It’s normal. What you need to avoid is forming a defensive reaction. Your knee-jerk response to clients and customers who are voicing displeasure is probably going to be your worst response.

While we all hope to never have to encounter these situations, they will happen despite our best-efforts. This being the case, it’s important to have a plan. If you don’t yet have a plan, or if you’re looking for ideas, consider the one below.

Step 1: Breathe

As you read negative feedback on your elearning service or product your body will start to react. It’s based on the primal “fight or flight” reaction to perceived threats. Your muscles may tense up and you will likely find yourself holding your breath.

Be aware of this reaction and counteract it by taking deep breaths. It will help you to keep a clear mind.

Step 2: Wait

Your first reaction will be to reply instantly. Don’t do it. Your response in the moment is not going to be your best response. After receiving the feedback take a moment to do something else. Give yourself a chance to digest what you have just heard.

If you absolutely have to reply, here is a tip: open up your personal email and write an email to yourself, including all the things you want to say. You don’t have to hold back because you are never sending this email to anyone else. It can be therapeutic to let off some steam.

Step 3: Find the True Message

When dealing with negative client interactions we can focus on the criticism and not the message. You will find that after you wait a little while you will be better able to see the cause for the customer reaction instead of focusing on the critical delivery.

These are your key takeaways. Use these to improve your

Step 4: Respond

Now that you have given time for your initial reaction to subside, you can start to form your response. It is important to acknowledge your client’s feelings. They are very real to them, whether you agree with the sentiment or not. If you dismiss the way they feel then they will be even more upset.

You should also make a point to explain how you will use their feedback. For example, if you will look into your product because of their comments then let them know. Finally, thank them for their candid communication.

It’s possible that even after going through these four steps that the individual will send you another response that is less than desired.

If you feel it is necessary you can address any additional points that are mentioned, but don’t get pulled into an endless back-and-forth. It isn’t productive for you, them, or your business.

Last, remember that for every person that voices displeasure you have many more who are happy. Try not to focus too much on the negatives, simply learn from them and continue moving forward.

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About the Author:

Justin Ferriman is the co-founder and CEO of LearnDash, the WordPress LMS trusted by the world's leading organizations, such as the University of Michigan, Digital Marketer, WPEngine, and Infusionsoft. Justin has made a career as an elearning consultant where he has implemented large-scale training programs for Fortune 500 companies. Twitter | LinkedIn

2 Comments
    • It comes down to your relationship. As you get to know your client, the word “nice” may be loaded. So it may just be their way of telling you they appreciate the work you did but they don’t like it.

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