And BAM. There it is. That angry email, that nasty, accusatory email from a client. Maybe you suspected it might come, maybe it came out of the blue but now what?
1. Step away from the angry email.
Many people have a knee-jerk reaction to defend themselves when they receive emails that are accusatory or inflammatory. It isn’t always lashing out in anger, some people lie down like a beaten dog and do whatever it takes to make the customer happy at any expense when faced with conflict. Neither of these responses is healthy for your business.
If you think it’s going to be more than a day, then respond to the client with a short email that says “I’ve received your email and understand your concerns. I’m not able to answer fully right now, but I will respond to your concerns by X date.” Try not to make it more than 48 hours.
2. Write the email that you want to send.
Step One: Open a word document and get it alllll out. (You’re going to write this in Word so you don’t inadvertently send it instead of saving it as a draft.) You know the email that I mean. The one where you tell them how many times you bent over backward for them, the exceptions you made. How you had to deal with their jerkface kids or their stupid husband, how you TOLD them that time of the day wasn’t the best lighting conditions, how you have been clear 1000 times that digital files are not included. That you RUE THE DAY you took them on as clients. Go ahead, get it all out.
Of course, you’re not going to send this. Like the love letters you wrote to your unrequited high school crush,you’ll just hang on to this draft until one day you’ll stumble upon it years later and be embarrassed for yourself…but at least you won’t have sent it.
3. Call upon a trusted friend in the business.
Who’s your go-to? That person who just seems to know how to answer an email or calm the most upset client. A good friend will tell you honestly how you screwed this one up, what kind of music you should be willing to face and how to make it right. They should also be able to commiserate with you on when a client is being unreasonable so you know it’s not just you over-reacting, and help you lay out a foundation of what to offer the client as solutions.
4. Decide what you can and can’t do at the end of the day.
At the end of the day, what are you willing to concede on? What are you not willing to budge on? There’s going to be a lot of factors that will play into this decision and it’s best if you are not making these decisions based on your first emotional response. Take some time to think it over, offer solutions and half-way meeting points. Decide at what point are you going to stand firm because it will be much easier to do so if you’ve prepared yourself for it in advance.
5. Revise the email.
Now you’ve got 3 different arsenals to draw from to compose your email
· The bullet points/facts from your first email that you are never, ever going to send to draw from.
· Advice from a trusted colleague/friend.
· A clear definition of concessions you are willing to make.
Trust me on this – if you wait a couple days to get it all out of your system, and then respond with a level head, you’ll be much more likely to deliver a calm, professional response that will hopefully lead to at least a compromise between you and the client.
Love this advice?
Kim and Charo (the brains behind A Camera and a Dream) are total pros when it comes to client management and dealing with difficult situations.
(Oh yeah. You’ve had them before. And it sucked, didn’t it?)
Thankfully for us they’ve put together a handy procedures guide that’s all about dealing with difficult clients and difficult situations.
And it’s full of awesome advice like the article above.
Plus other great stuff like procedures to have in place to make running your business easier and keep clients happy, how to identify problem clients, and what to do when it’s really not you (it’s the client) and how to break up with them.
And even better, they’re giving $15 off to the Belovely You audience with discount code BELOVELYSAUCE (no really, that’s the code).
*Please note: some of the links in this post are affiliate links, and don’t affect you as the buyer but do help support us and keep this site free for everyone.