You have given so much effort to build up your small business. Eventually, word has spread and you’re getting more and more orders and gigs. You’re finally living the dream and your client has grown enough. But then there comes a time when tragedy strikes — one or a couple of your customer relationships turn sour. Whatever the reason that lies underneath, the client has decided your work doesn’t meet their standards or a personality rubbed someone the wrong way.

So what do you do next? Of course, whatever the reason is, the most important thing for you to do is to mend the relationship. Otherwise, you run the risk of word spreading around the community and your dreams will eventually turn into one big nightmare.

But how do you save a bad customer relationship? Read on and find out which of the following methods is applicable to your situation.

1. Recognize what’s happened

The first step in patching up a soured relationship is understanding what actually went wrong. This is isn’t about who is blaming who; but it’s about knowing how something that was working so well fell into disarray. What you uncover might well point to you being the guilty party. Or maybe there’s no guilt to be found and the relationship with that customer simply went bad. But you will not be able to arrive at the right solution until you understand the root of the problem as to why the relationship suddenly went sour.

2. Apologize

There are instances in your business wherein either you or the client has done something to each other that caused a friction in your business relationship. Regardless of who caused the issue, step up and offer an apology — even if you’re certain you were not at fault. The truth of the matter is, this is a business and you don’t want to put yourself in a position where ego prevents you from smoothing over a rough patch in a client relationship. Remember, this doesn’t involve your personal life, so there are times that you should swallow your pride and take responsibility for something you may not have done. In doing so, you could prevent that client from getting angry enough to spread malice about you or your business.

3. Remind them

You may experience clients that you rarely visit because their support needs may be very minimal. However, you should treat them with as much care as you would give your bigger clients. Although they may not feed your coffers like the big-ticket businesses, they still have a voice — and it can carry through your community. If a client feels like you’ve forgotten them, your reputation could suffer. To prevent that relationship from crumbling down, stay in touch as much as you can. All it takes is a quick email, phone call, or visit to remind the customer that you care about their interests and want to make sure everything’s running perfectly fine. That will definitely go a long way toward fixing a relationship that had gone sour due to absence of communication.

4. Fix the real problem

Sometimes, a relationship goes sour because of something you actually did. You may have failed to resolve a networking issue in a timely manner and it’s still causing problems. If that’s the case, do everything you can to fix the problem you were hired to do. If it turns out the job is above you — and there’s no hope you’ll be able to resolve the issue — subcontract someone who can take care of it. In the end, it’s crucial that the problem gets fixed. Remember, the person or company that hired you might not be able to do business properly until you resolve the issue. Put yourself in their shoes and understand how quickly this can escalate into a far worse problem.

5. Respond to requests in a timely manner

What’s the sense in giving the client the means to contact you if you aren’t responding to their requests in a timely manner? If a customer frequently reaches out to you, and you take your time to respond to their concern, that relationship will quickly turn sour and you’ll be having a hard time getting it back on track. That means giving that upset or disappointed client priority when they reach out to you for help. You don’t have to necessarily do this for that client, but you need to do it until the relationship is healed. And then once you’re back on stable ground, then that’s the time to provide them with your standard priority.

6. Know that you’re not always right

It’s sometimes hard to admit that you’re wrong — especially when it comes to IT. You have to keep in mind that your stubbornness could very well be preventing your client from doing business and keeping your relationship from functioning properly. There may be times when you attempt to solve a problem and your solution isn’t viable, cost effective, or right at that time. When those things happen, stop pretending you’re infallible. Acknowledge your mistake and then fix it right away. By accepting that you’re wrong, you’ll regain the respect of the client and that relationship will quickly improve.

 

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This entry was posted by Staff Writer on Friday, July 29, 2016 at 6:31:24 AM and is filed under Small-Medium Business.

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