You know the feeling.
You’re doing your best to please all of your clients, but there’s that one grouchy person you just can’t seem to keep happy.

Maybe they’re having a bad day or maybe they’re always like this, but your cheerful approach doesn’t seem to get you anywhere.

And you’re wondering if it’s worth the hassle to continue to cater to them, but you know you want to keep them as a client.

Luckily, there are tactics you can use to diffuse the situation, deal with the client, and make sure you keep them in (and on) your good books.

Kill Them with Kindness

Have you ever woken up late, and had to rush out the door without your coffee and it made you feel rushed and grouchy all day?

Or maybe you’ve been commuting and were stuck in a traffic jam on your way to work. When this has happened to me, I’ve become irritable and the feeling is usually hard to shake all day long.

I know I’ve probably carried that feeling with me when I went to get my hair cut or get a massage, and if anything inconvenient happens while I’m waiting or something delays my appointment, I’m far more likely to snap at the service provider, even though they don’t deserve it.

So when you’re dealing with a grouchy client, try to put yourself in their shoes. Maybe they’re having a rough day and just need a little kindness.

They’re certainly not justified in treating you poorly, but often a client will brighten (and admit their mistakes) once you kill them with kindness.

Approach them with empathy and be as genuinely kind as possible, no matter how grumpy they seem. It’s difficult to be grouchy at somebody who is empathizing with you and kind to you.

Admit Your Mistakes

Sometimes, when a client becomes difficult to handle, it’s because of an error made by your business or a hiccup with their service.

Maybe you double booked their appointment or left them waiting for a bit too long. Or maybe there was a small communication blip that led to their service being less than satisfactory.

We all make mistakes sometimes, and while it would be nice if your client understood that and cut you a break, that’s not always reality.

So, while it’s difficult to ‘fess up and admit your mistakes to a client that seems to be foaming at the mouth, there’s a little thing in us humans that just want to hear “I’m sorry.”

They may be upset, but if you genuinely acknowledge your mistake and apologize to them, you’ll be well on your way to making them a happy camper again.

Give Them an Unexpected Bonus

Whether your client is giving you a hard time because you made an error or for some other reason, sometimes the perfect thing to lighten the mood and make them feel secure in their decision as hiring you as their service provider is making them feel special.

We all like to feel like we’re being taken care of. Would you ever be grouchy if your massage therapist told you they’d give you 15 minutes extra for free? How could you stay unsatisfied if your hair-dresser fixed her mistake by apologizing and offering you a free shampoo?

Giving your clients a bonus when they least expect it can fix the problem quickly.

So next time there’s an error made or just a grumpy client to deal with, offer a little bonus to sweeten the pot. It will make them feel taken care of, listened to, and appreciated.

Grouchy clients are sometimes a given when you work in the service industry, but the sting of having to deal with them is harsher in the Relational Economy.

No matter how unhappy the client, they are still people, and basic empathy, owning up to your mistakes and free upgrades will go a long way to get you in their good books again.