If you’re running any kind of business involving direct work with clients then I’m sure you know that things can get a little messy at some times. And if you haven’t had an angry client yet then it’s only a matter of time. Why am I saying it like that? Well, it’s because the fact that your client is unhappy doesn’t have to actually be your fault…

Sometimes things just happen and there’s not much you can do to prevent them completely. But you can still learn from your past experience and use it to handle similar situations better in the future.

Talk, and understand what went wrong

It all starts with communication. You won’t be able to learn anything from the situation if you don’t try talking to your client and getting to the bottom of their point of view.

This really is crucial, even when the client is seriously unhappy. You need to try to fight the initial miscommunication and get into some form of discussion. Remember to be polite and don’t try to prove that you are the one who’s right no matter what.

Only when you get to know the point of view of your client will you be able to (1) fix the problem and make the client happy, and (2) prevent similar situations from happening in the future.

If it’s your fault, fix it

Taking the blame is a really difficult skill to master, but it can become a really valuable one.

And I’m talking about honestly taking the blame, not just saying that you’re sorry and then forgetting about the whole thing. There’s no point in this because you’re not learning anything you can use in the future.

Getting to the bottom of a problem and admitting that you’re the guilty person is a completely different thing.

If you reach a conclusion that something is your fault then you should do anything you can to fix the situation. If you make things right and make the client happy again then they will most likely stay with you because they will know that you are ready to take all the necessary steps to deliver on your promise.


Refunds are an interesting thing in business. In some niches, like digital products, business owners are ready to give 100% refunds to anyone who asks for them, and they even let them keep the product. Mostly because an individual copy of the product costs nothing to make since it’s digital.

In other niches it’s a lot more difficult. If you’ve bought a wardrobe, for instance, and now you want a refund, you can find a really hard time receiving it, and you’d surely have to give the wardrobe back.

In the end, the decision whether or not to give refunds left and right depends on the product you’re selling. The main rule is this: If you can create an individual copy of your product (or the thing you’re offering) with no additional cost then your refund policy can be a generous one. If not, then be careful about it.

I’m not saying that you shouldn’t grant refunds but just make sure that you don’t lose too much when you do.

Give a bonus

There’s a one really good trick to making your clients happy again. No matter what line of business you’re in, there’s always something you can give away as a bonus that won’t be that costly on your side.

People like free stuff, and it’s a rule that works everywhere … worldwide and business-wide. Actually, the word free is one of the most powerful words in the English language according to Dan Ariely, the author of Predictably Irrational.

But it is quite a cheap trick, so I don’t advise using it on its own. It’s a great addition once you’ve managed to fix the initial problem, and it can really rebuild your relationship with the client.

If you’re in the digital products space then you have it easy, if you run a more traditional business selling some tangible stuff then focus on the things that are useful to the average client of yours, and don’t cost much to produce at the same time.

Offer additional features

Sometimes it’s a lot easier to offer some additional features than a completely separate bonus. This is most true for all service-based businesses. Offering a completely different service as a bonus will cost you money, but adding a feature or two to your initial offer should be much cheaper.

For instance, if you get paid to write articles then you can offer two extra revisions before delivering the final versions of the articles to your client.

Since you know best what’s the nature of your business, it’s hard for me to give you many other examples that would make sense. I’m sure you can come up with something on your own. The point is to, again, not make it too expensive on your part.

Offer a discount on future work

One more thing you can offer as an addition to fixing the problem is a discount on any future work you do together. This should be another reason why the client would want to stay with you regardless of the problem that took place.

As a business owner you can surly tell what your margins are and how big of a discount you can offer to anyone and still remain profitable.

This is, again, way easier for those of you doing business in the digital products space…

Don’t care

Well that escalated quickly, didn’t it?

I’m sure the subheading has caught your eye, but don’t get me wrong, I’m not saying that you shouldn’t care about the situation. What I mean here is that it just shouldn’t keep you awake at night. Bad things simply happen in business every now and then. The faster you learn to deal with them the better.

The point here is to be able to look at problems with a clear eye and not let your emotions get in the way. If you don’t care about something emotionally then you can find a way better solution to the problem, and use the knowledge you’ve got from the situation to prevent similar situations from happening in the future.

If you do, however, get mad, frustrated, stressed, etc. then making good decisions will be a lot harder. So clear your mind, and don’t care.

What’s your approach to dealing with unhappy clients? Do you have anything you’d like to share or ask?