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What to do when a client complains

Sage Lavine 12-17

What to do when a client complainsIf you serve clients LONG enough and serve ENOUGH clients, you WILL stumble upon an unhappy or complaining client. You can’t please everyone.

And, I’ll never forget when it first happened to me several years ago.

I lost sleep, got sick to my stomach, and almost quit coaching over a client who blamed me for what was going wrong in her life.

Finally, I called a friend in panic, “What do I do?” I asked her. She shared a couple of tips that led me to having a huge breakthrough with this client that changed both of our lives and upleveled my coaching forever, and I want to share them with you.

And at the end, I’ll tell you what happened with my very angry client… Did I tell you she was VERY angry?

So here’s what to do:

1. Get curious!

When a client is upset with you or complains… Put on the hat of a detective, rather than getting stuck in reaction or taking it personally. It’s not about you, even if you could have done a better job it always takes two people for a breakdown to happen.

Validate & Ask Questions: I hear you saying that you are disappointed about, x, y or z… can you tell me more? Why were you let down? What specifically did you want to happen instead?

Let your client know you understand their feelings, help them feel heard.

IMPORTANT: Don’t get into a power struggle or defend, it will just make it worse.

2. Take responsibility for yourself.

Let your client know that you’re not perfect, that you care about them, that you’re doing the best you can and you hear their disappointment.

When you take responsibility for your role it usually helps them take responsibility for theirs.

3. Most IMPORTANT step: Ask your client how they could have showed up differently to help them achieve their desired result.

If your client didn’t follow through on taking an action they had committed to, ask them what’s going on. Ask what got in the way of them showing up. Get curious without going into judgment.

Don’t make them wrong.
Speak with a soft voice.
NOTE: This is TRUE leadership!

Ask them what it will take to recommit. Lovingly point out their lack of action in the places where they may have not stepped up.

This is the place where most mentors back off. Most of us are being too empathetic and not bold enough to call our clients on their weak spots. People will pay you when you call them out and stand in the fire with them.

People won’t just pay you to be a good listener and cheerleader, people want you to call them forth and tell them the truth about how they’re getting in their own way.

Do it with love, tell the truth, and clients will stay with you.

What happened for me is that I got curious with my angry client. I asked what was coming up for her, and… (Take note of this!) Where in her life had she been through this before?

As I’m doing this, my legs are quaking … but, despite my fear, because of my honesty and compassion we got to the other side of a lot of blame and upset, and she broke down in tears…

She told me I was the first person that she didn’t scare away using her protective finger pointing tactics.

She stayed coaching with me for six more months … she was able to quit her job and focus on doing what she loved the most, serving clients. She ended up being one of my favorite clients and has continued to refer other clients to me.

Underneath that tough exterior I found a teddy bear interior.

Be willing to become the leader to lead your clients. Be willing to stand in the fire with your clients. Call them out… tell the truth. Say the hard thing.

This is what will have them hire you, and stay with you.

Let’s do this thing sister, keep growing… keep going.

(Hope you took notes, if it hasn’t happened yet it will, and I promise this article will help!)

Loving you,



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