Have an unhappy client? Here’s what you need to do.

Every business owner, entrepreneur, or employee of any sort of business has no choice but to face it from time to time. In our pursuit of perfection, sometimes we fail. Within that failure, we can make our clients unhappy. 

Sometimes we make them seriously unhappy. They shared a goal. We told them we could help them achieve it. And then we didn’t. And now they’re nothing short of furious.

So what do we do when we’re dealing with our unhappiest client? The right thing to do is quite simple, actually.

We need to learn from them. 

It’s really, really easy for people who have entrepreneurial mindsets to get defensive, fall victim to our egos, and let our stubbornness take over. It’s time to unlearn all of that. 

Here are some incredibly valuable things you can do to embrace your unhappy customers, better understand their experience, and build a bigger, stronger business in the process.


Until you’ve been able to train yourself to respond otherwise, your first instinct when you’re dealing with an unhappy customer is probably to react, make excuses, make promises, and so on. 

But I want you to shut up and listen. As hard as it will be at first, please just shut up and listen. You’re dealing with a person who is probably in an emotionally heightened state. They have something they feel they need to say. Let them get it out. And listen carefully to what they’re telling you. 

Assuming this person isn’t being straight up abusive, do your best to put yourself in their shoes. They had certain expectations. They’re surprised, confused, and disappointed. They need to get that energy out. 


You have a big, big opportunity at this moment to learn more about your business than you could from a survey or secret shopper call. This is the real, unvarnished feedback you need to make your business an even better-performing organization. Set your ego aside. It’s time to take your medicine. 

This is not the time to abdicate responsibility to someone on your team. Every client should feel like they are your top priority. If they’re truly unhappy, then getting a direct line to the company’s top leadership is an effective way to make them feel heard. 

It’s also the best, most unfiltered way for you to learn how your business didn’t meet the moment.

Actively listen to their feedback and show empathy while they’re speaking to you. Once they’ve finished, wait a beat, and then ask them if there’s anything else that you should know. 

If there is, then continue listening, and then ask them once again if there’s anything else they want to share with you. Unless they’re being impatient, there’s no need to rush. 


When they’re done sharing their feedback with you, the first thing that you need to do is apologize to them. 

I know a lot of alpha-minded people out there might bristle at this advice, but I can assure you that the stronger person is the one who is willing to hold themselves accountable when they’ve let someone down. 

You need to apologize, and it needs to be sincere. No, “I’m sorry if you’re disappointed”-style passive responses. 

Your job is to validate their concerns by concisely summarizing what they’ve said to you, to take responsibility for their poor experience, and to tell them that you’re sorry for the poor experience they’ve had. It’s that simple. 

The thing is, you’d truly be amazed at how powerful those two small things can be. They really can make an unhappy customer feel whole. But, despite that, you’re not quite done yet. 


Now is the time to reset with your client. Now is the time to ask them what you can do in order to make things right. Most people, presumably, are going to be reasonable in these moments, so their response is probably going to be equitable to what they lost. 

Assuming this is the case, honor that request graciously. In the instance that what they’re asking for is well beyond what they’ve lost, then think critically about what complying with their ask might mean for your business. 

Could giving them something for free mean something even bigger down the road? A longer term contract? Access to their network? Advocacy for your brand? Think carefully, and act decisively. 


Now, if your goal is to make sure this client remains loyal to your brand, then you’ll need to work closely with your team so that they understand what happened, you can investigate where your process broke down, and you can make any updates to ensure that no one experiences this again. 

The point of this exercise is not to cast blame, but to be appropriately reflective in how you can be better in your delivery. 

If there are clear performance issues, then you or your managers should address them, create an action plan, and hold the appropriate parties accountable.

If there’s a technical issue, then work with your operations team to correct it. 

If it’s a leadership issue, then learn how you can be clearer in how you set expectations for the organization. 


Another reality here is that you’ll sometimes have clients that are so upset with you that no matter what you try to do, they’ll quit. That’s life. You better learn from it. 

Again, it’s your responsibility as the leader in your organization to reduce the number of those instances, and to create a culture of accountability. To encourage everyone to examine your errors without pointing fingers, and to create better systems and an optimum delivery of your products or services. 

You do all this by staying focused on your clients’ needs. Place them at the center of your thoughts and actions, and be willing to reset when you and your team falls down. That’s the spirit of 10X, and that’s how you build a sustainable business.

Want to learn more about how you can rise to the challenge in any business situation? Then you need to join us for a Cardone Venture event! We get into every aspect of entrepreneurship so you can 10X your business, and your life. Register now!