It happens to everyone.
No matter how successful your lawn care company is, you’re going to encounter angry clients from time to time.
Sometimes, it’s not your fault. Accidents happen. And we all know about those clients who just like to complain.
Other times, you or your company might be at blame for a situation that can damage the relationship with your clients.
While some people simply can’t be pleased, if there’s a chance you can make an angry client happy again… then you should try. It’s much cheaper to keep an existing client than it is to go out and get a new one.
All it takes is a little extra effort on your part.
First – Is this Client Worth Your Time?
This is a hard consideration for most business owners.
Isn’t the goal to get lawn care clients – not to fire them?
Simple answer: no. Your goal as a business owner is to make the most profitable business you can.
No two clients are worth the same to your business. They will have different properties, they will have different needs. They probably even pay you different amounts.
So, your first step to appeasing an angry client is to figure out – “Is this client worth my time?”
- Is this a small-time client, or a big one?
- Are your services priced for profit with this client?
- If you fix this problem, will they likely keep complaining anyway?
If you said yes to that last one, Landscape Management has a guide on firing your worst clients.
Our training manager, Chris Volpe, has a few things to say about problem customers. He’s a Pareto Principle expert and explains how getting rid of your worst 20% of complainers will get rid of 80% of your problems.
Let’s say you decide that this client is worth saving, and you want to make them happy…
14 Ways to How to Make an Angry Client a Happy Client (Again)
What follows are 14 ways to fix your relationships with upset clients.
These will help you repair bad relationships, and even turn your angriest clients into ultra-loyal fans:
1. Respond Personally.
If at all possible, make sure to personally respond to the client. Leaving the situation in the hands of an assistant or crew member can make the client feel like you don’t really care about the complaint, especially if the client believes that assistant or crew member is at fault.
2. Listen Before You Speak.
Listen first to what the client has to say before you take any action. While your team will likely fill you in on the situation, it’s important to also hear from the client—and let them know that you hear him.
Ask the client to explain exactly what is going on, and give them time and space to express themselves.
3. Remain calm.
Do not get angry or accuse the client of being wrong. Stay calm, focused, and attentive to their comments and concerns.
4. Repeat the complaint back to the client.
If they hear you repeat it, they will know that you heard them. Try to use their own words.
5. Sympathize with the client.
Reiterate to the client that you hear what they are saying, and that you understand they are upset.
6. Don’t Try to “Win” an Argument.
Don’t immediately disagree with the client. The object here is not to win an argument with the client, but rather to win their continued business.
Validate their concerns, and let them know that you take them seriously. Tell them that this sort of thing doesn’t usually happen, that you are concerned that it happened, and that you will address it immediately.
7. Share in their Disappointment.
You may not always want to apologize – especially when it isn’t your company’s fault.
Regardless, you should show good faith by sharing in your client’s disappointment in the situation. A simple, “I’m very sad this happened,” has the same effect as an apology, without actually admitting to any of the guilt.
That said, if your company was at fault, don’t hesitate to apologize.
Your goal here is to let the client know that you are taking the problem seriously.
8. Thank Your Client.
After you’ve listened to their concerns and apologized for the situation, thank the client for bringing it to your attention. This will tell the client that, instead of trying to avoid their concerns, you appreciate the opportunity to improve your customer service or otherwise fix a problem within your company.
9. Evaluate the client’s expectations.
What does the client expect?
Can you properly meet their expectations?
If you can tell them immediately, do so. If you can’t, let them know that you are going to discuss the situation with your team, and that’ll you’ll get back to them right away with details about the next steps.
10. Make things right.
It can be a lot easier and cheaper to keep an existing client—even an angry one—than it can be to land a new one. And while, technically, the customer isn’t always right, you still need to do whatever it takes to make things right.
Consider these options:
- Go back and fix the part of the job that was done incorrectly
- Give a partial refund or a free month
- Throw in an extra service for free
- Send different crew members to that client on the next visit
Maybe you do all of the above.
Whatever you do, make sure the client understands and is satisfied with what you’re offering, and make sure that they know that you and your team will do everything in your power to see that the error, incident, or problem does not happen again.
11. Thank the client (again).
Thank them for being so understanding (even if they really weren’t), for giving you an opportunity to remedy the situation, for hiring your company in the first place, and for the opportunity to continue to serve them.
12. Seize the opportunity to improve your company.
While some complaints have more merit than others, your angry client might be doing you a favor by alerting you to a problem or situation within your business that you might not have been aware of.
Review the incident with your team, and use it as a learning opportunity to raise your company’s game and prevent similar situations from happening in the future.
13. Don’t Take it Personally
Even if you were to blame for the incident, don’t take it personally. We all make mistakes and have bad days. Business is business, and you are not your business.
While you might be concerned about how a business problem can reflect poorly on your personal reputation, ultimately, the client is not really upset with you, they are upset with the quality of service your company has provided.
So, take a deep breath and cut yourself some slack—no matter how bad the situation.
14. Reflect and Improve
Take some time to reflect on the incident.
Ask yourself what you or your company could have done differently to prevent it from happening. Consider holding a team meeting to review the incident and make sure everybody is on the same page about what happened, what you can all learn from it, and how you’ll be moving forward.
Once the incident has been thoroughly discussed, press the reset button, put the incident behind you, and get back to providing your valuable services.
Keep Improving Your Reputation
When things go bad with your lawn or landscape clients, it never pays to “let them get over it.”
It’s your responsibility as the business owner to do something. Don’t ever let it sit and rest.
The 14 tips above tips will help you repair a damaged relationship with any of your clients.
But it doesn’t have to stop there. Once you’ve successfully turned an angry client into a loyal one, they can help you further increase your reputation.
One of the best ways to improve your reputation is to get high-quality online reviews. There are three categories of online reviews:
- And Outstanding
Angry clients will try to leave a mark on your online presence. This guide will show you how to deal with these awful online reviews and how to get more high-quality ones.
The better your reputation, the more clients will flock to your business. Good luck!
Bill Colrus serves as a marketing writer and social media editor for Service Autopilot. Bill got his start as a reporter for his hometown newspaper while still in high school, and has spent more than two decades creating content and content strategies for publications, companies, and clients. He takes pride in providing service business owners with practical information and inspiration that will help them achieve their goals.