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What To Do When a Client Is Unhappy With Your Work

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By Vicky Monroe

Business Basics

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How to Deal With Unhappy Customers

As a freelancer, you hope that you can solve your clients’ problems and produce high-quality work that they love. But even if you’re great at what you do, you may not be able to satisfy every single client you work with. Sometimes your work will get rejected because it’s not exactly what your customer is looking for. Here are some tips on what to do when a client is unhappy with your services so you can make things right.

Understand the Problem

Sometimes when a client rejects your work, they don’t give you much feedback to go on. They may simply say they don’t like the article or logo you produced without indicating what you did wrong. 

So the first step is to understand the problem and ask your client why they’re unhappy. Were they dissatisfied with the final project you submitted or the customer service you provided? It may help to talk to your client over the phone so you can ask clarifying questions without creating a long email chain. 

Ask them for specific examples of things they didn’t like about your work or customer service so you can make it right. Try not to get defensive, even if the client criticizes your work harshly or says things you don’t agree with. Being polite and hearing your client out is critical if you want to resolve the issue and work together in the future. 

Brainstorm Solutions 

Now that you know what the problem is, you can brainstorm potential solutions. If the client didn’t like the final project you submitted, hopefully you can resolve the problem by editing it. I usually offer one round of edits at no extra charge, even if the revisions the client requests are extensive. But it may be reasonable to charge an additional fee for edits depending on the situation. 

For example, if a client decides they want to change the topic of the article after you’ve already submitted it, you don’t have to redo it for free even if they’re unhappy. If a customer changes the scope of work after the fact, you’re totally within your rights to ask for more money before you make revisions. 

After reviewing your work, sometimes a client may decide you’re not the right fit for their project. If they don’t give you the opportunity to fix your work, you may want to consider offering them a discount to make up for your mistakes. You could even offer to connect them with other freelancers in your network who may be a better match. 

If your client was dissatisfied with your customer service, a discount or refund may be in order depending on the situation. As a freelancer, you should aim to exceed your clients’ expectations. If you were uncommunicative throughout the project or missed an important deadline, you should own your mistake and apologize for dropping the ball. Offering the client a discount and a sincere apology goes a long way. 

The Customer Is Always Right

At the end of the day, it’s up to you as a business owner what concessions you’re willing to make. If you don’t think a discount or refund is warranted, you don’t have to offer one. But in my opinion, it’s better to operate your business with the mantra “the customer is always right” in mind. Even if you feel like the problem at hand wasn’t your fault, you should still compromise with your client and come up with a solution that works for both parties. 

Dissatisfied clients are bad for your business. They may leave negative reviews online or tell their friends and family not to work with you. Maintaining a good reputation is essential if you want your business to succeed. Many freelancers get most of their work from referrals. So it’s in your best interest to make sure clients walk away happy and ready to recommend your services. 

Although editing or redoing a project for free hurts your bottom line, think about the business the client will bring you in the future. If they’re a recurring customer who sends you hundreds of dollars of work per month, it’s worth it to spend a few hours fixing something for them at no extra charge to build rapport. 

Has a client ever been unhappy with your work? What did you do to make it up to them? Share your tips in the comments section below!

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