CPA Marketing Blog: Upset clients are an opportunity to strengthen the relationship

How do you handle a truly upset client? If your client has a complaint about your service and is clearly upset, let him continue. Listen carefully to understand what he’s saying. Don’t offer a solution until you’ve encouraged him to tell you exactly what happened.

Once he’s had a chance to voice his concern, he’ll be more likely to listen to what you have to say. This is your opportunity to let him know that you understand the problem, and that your intent is to solve the problem to his satisfaction. Doing so will impress your client and may very well strengthen your relationship. Once clarity has been achieved, everyone is usually happier.

Here are a few more tips on assisting an upset client:

  • Don’t get defensive. The client wants resolution, not excuses.
  • Clients can get upset as a result of failed expectations, which are often the result of miscommunication. A clear explanation from you about your process often goes a long way for someone who perhaps has some misconceived ideas about your firm.
  • Don’t get hung up on a single defensive point which you repeat several times; it’ll only increase the irritation.
  • Don’t attack his points of concern. Instead, address each point calmly and work through them.

For future consideration: Develop a clear dialogue with your clients from the very beginning of your relationship. Always describe what, how, and why you are doing something for them. Clear communication up front will greatly reduce client dissatisfaction down the road.

Arvid Mostad

Arvid Mostad is the President and co-founder of Mostad & Christensen, Inc. Since 1978, M&C's marketing products have helped accounting firms build client loyalty, get more referrals, add value to services, be visible in their community, and keep clients informed.