How to Manage a Negative Client Experience.

We’re nearly at the end of 2019, and i have sadly had my first serious complaint of the year.

Yes, occasionally i have had clients who have had constructive feedback for projects which i have then corrected / reshot etc. and supplied them imagery which they have been ecstatic with. I pride myself on being able to keep my clients happy.

Having a client who is unhappy with the work that you have produced feels awful, and as a freelancer, you do everything in your power to rectify the situation and leave your client with a smile on their face.

But, what do you do if a client turns nuclear? This is what has just happened to me honestly it made me feel like shit.

I’m not going to go into the ins and outs of the project, even though that would feel wonderfully cathartic, but what i am going to do is show you what the client wrote in my “review”…

Initially i was pretty hurt at the clients review. Aside from this particular snippet, it felt like personal attack on myself and my work, which i am not too proud to admit – hurt me in my feelies.

So after moping around for a couple of hours feeling sorry for myself, feeling useless and rubbish, i decided to put this feeling to a positive use and turn my frown upside down.

How to learn from negative feedback.

First off, in normal circumstances, identify if this is a salvageable relationship… in my case it is not, so i’ve written off the client and owed monies. But, in most cases a relationship is salvageable, and you just have to decide whether it is worth the effort to fix.

Secondly, make this a learning moment and study what happened and identify what went wrong. What variables (within your control) could have been changed for a different outcome? Here are mine for this project:

  • Manage expectations prior to the project commencing, outlining deliverables and clarifying brief.
  • If the brief or deliverables change then amend the costing appropriately.
  • Do not ignore red flags indicating an incompatible working relationship

Thirdly, it’s important that you don’t let negative feedback make you feel like shit for too long. It’s bound to bring you down, but you can use this experience to do something positive with it.

Here are some ways that you can cheer yourself up (without involving alcohol) after getting negative feedback:

  • Check in with your favourite client/s just to say hi
  • Write a positive blog post
  • Re-organise your favourite shots in your portfolio
  • Do a personal project ; food for the soul
  • Have a look at your positive reviews

Also, it is always worth remembering, that no matter how rude, or mean, or personal an unhappy client may become; People are rarely being dicks for the sake of it. Everyone is human, and people respond differently in difficult situations. Keep your composure, measure your responses and always represent the neutral face of your business. Never get riled up, do not meet them in their territory, always in yours. If you respond consistently with understanding, empathy and kindness, they will struggle to remain angry and annoyed. It is hard to consistently meet pragmatism with anger and ,whilst you may not attain a disney -happy-ending with you and your client riding off into the sunset on the back of an awesome project, you may at least maintain your composure in the process. 

Yes the relationship may not be salvageable, but your dignity will not be compromised and at least you will not have a hangover of regret once you have licked your wounds. 

In the spirit of this blog post, i want to show you a handful of curated reviews which i used to cheer myself up after my explosive project.

Keep on keeping on and 2020 will be awesome.

Leave a Reply

Fill in your details below or click an icon to log in: Logo

You are commenting using your account. Log Out /  Change )

Twitter picture

You are commenting using your Twitter account. Log Out /  Change )

Facebook photo

You are commenting using your Facebook account. Log Out /  Change )

Connecting to %s