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A Client Is Upset. What Do I Do?

No matter how well you connect and get along with most of your customers, inevitably you will have to deal with someone that’s angry. While the majority of Hatchwise contests include great communication between clients and creatives, occasionally there can be frustration. 

This frustration occurs for many reasons; miscommunication, delayed responses, lack of feedback, and more. Whatever the reason, it’s important that you are prepared to deal with them in an appropriate and professional manner in order to get your work back on track and ensure a satisfied customer. 

If you are a creative that is having an issue with a client and feel that there is confusion or even anger, then you’ve come to the right place! Read on to find out how you would handle an angry customer. 

How to Proceed if a Client is Getting Upset

First things first; keeping your cool and ensuring that your client is going to stick around and see things through is the goal. No matter what’s going on, you need to make sure that you remain professional and guide your customer through their anger and frustration so that they don’t just pick up and run for the hills. 

The best way to do that is by following a handful of steps. While these steps won’t always bring forth an immediate solution, they help to ease tensions and to keep your client around. 

  • Stay calm. The first thing you will want to do is stay calm and not get upset. Keep in mind that while there is clearly some frustration, it’s often not directed at you personally, even if it feels like it. Whatever is bothering your client can be dealt with, as long as you remain steady and able to communicate transparently, with humility. 
  • Be polite. Don’t respond in an angry, aggressive, or defensive way. That will not help, it will only escalate things. As you hear the heart of your client, you may be tempted to tell them how you feel or explain your side. However, chances are you’re already a little annoyed by the customer. 

If you decide to air your grievances to your customer, there’s a good chance your own anger will get the better of you. This can create a ripple effect, increasing your client’s frustration and fanning the flames of yours. Instead of arguing or telling them how you really feel, take a deep breath and get ready to listen.  

  • Use active listening as they talk. When you use active listening, you will show your customer that you hear and understand why they are frustrated. The best way to handle an angry customer through active listening is with an interview question. Ask them detailed questions to get them talking and then when they begin to answer, listen without making comments or getting defensive. 

Once they have answered, repeat what you heard them say. Doing so will ensure that your client feels heard and knows that you understand them and their needs. 

  • Don’t take it personally. To handle an angry customer, you might need to explain with reasoning why things have worked out as they have. This can be an important step towards authenticity and trust. Instead of making excuses or brushing the issue aside, you will show them through reasoning why they may be experiencing the frustrating situation. 

However, you won’t want to take things personally and get defensive. Don’t feel that any annoyance on the part of the client is a reflection of your work. While they may be asking for changes, it doesn’t mean that your submission is bad, only that it’s not what the client is looking for. 

  • See if you can help. Ask if there is anything that you can do to help. This may mean responding to feedback sooner or making a couple of edits for the client. Be open when you offer help. You won’t want to have to back out if your customer asks for help you can’t provide. By learning what your clients’ needs are, you are preparing yourself to better serve them, now or in the future. 
  • Find tips for getting out of a business slump. It happens to all creatives sometimes; the inevitable slump, writer’s block, brain fog, or heavy hand. Sometimes you will just lose inspiration for your work. If your client’s frustration is due to a business slump that you’re in the middle of, you need to take a deep breath and fight to get out of that slump! 

When you have customers and people that count on you and your skill, you can’t embrace your business slumps. Instead, you need to break free from them. Taking the initiative to help yourself move forward is important for you, your customers, and your work. 

If you try all of the above and still feel that nothing is working to rectify the situation then it may be time to ask for assistance. If you feel that a client is getting upset or annoyed and there is nothing that you can do to help, please contact They can look into the issue, contact the client, and work as a mediator in the situation.