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What do you do to recover from a negative client experience?

Saving the best for last! As I wrap up my first Q&A with the following question, I reflect on my ages ago 12 1/2 years of experience owning a tuxedo rental store. I used to lie in bed at night and think about ways to get back at those 10% customers. I have grown a lot since then!


Here we go with Question Number 5!


What do you do to recover from a negative client experience?


Negative thoughts or experiences have a way of renting way too much space in our brains. As Buddha would say, don't let negative people walk through your mind with dirty feet. Now, I’m not saying just ignore a negative experience because… maybe it’s only negative in your eyes. Is there truth in it? 


As I write this, I chuckle because I don’t always respond well to a negative client experience lol. In my Living the 90% book, I have a chapter on dealing with negative people, but it is easily relatable to negative client experiences. The following excerpt is to my point.


Thousands of people a year fill out an evaluation form, go online, and write what they think of my

presentation. I have three piles for the feedback I receive. Pile 1. Thank you, God, for sending these kind words from this 90% person. Pile 2. What a great suggestion! I am so grateful this person took the time to care about me and suggest that. 99% of my evaluations and feedback are great, but there are always one or two people who do not like my message and seem to make it personal. 


I received one evaluation, which I reflect on occasionally during a presentation and is the reason for 

Pile 3. The evaluation? “You sucked, and your hair is too big” Who would write something like that? I wanted to email her and say, “You think this is big hair? You should have seen it in 1985!” I don’t let their negative energy into my office and process those comments accordingly.


So, keeping the above context in mind, here are some approaches I advocate to recover from a negative client experience.

  • Talk about it. Face it. Vent it with your colleagues and unpack it. Is there truth in it? Can we learn from this experience to do better? Remember, only talk about it three times and come to an agreement on how to fix it, or their energy will stay in yours.

  • Reflect back on the event and put the 10% experience into perspective. Ask yourself, “Did I do the best I could?” If not, vow to change that next time, learn from it, grow, dust yourself off and let it go. Period.

  • Accept that we all have accountability to our businesses or organizations to give our clients the best possible service. This includes those clients who seem to be unhappy no matter what service level we provide. We put unrealistic expectations on ourselves and our staff to think “the customer is always right.” 10% of the time the customer is “not right,” they are just cranky no matter what we might do for them.

  • Build your armour, and be proud of the service you provide. Protect yourself from those 10% clients. In my book Living the 90% I highlight the nine essential ways to deal with negative people/clients, the sixth being how to build your armour.

  • Open/build a file of happy 90% customers and read all the great comments.


I have this framed in my office:

“When someone says something unkind about you, live your life so that no one will believe them.”



Quote One Rude person should not have the power to rob you of your kindness

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