As good as you are at what you do, it is inevitable that you will eventually have a client who is less than thrilled with your work. Whether it’s from clashing tastes or if you’re just having an off day, it happens.
1. Address the Problem
If you know the client is unhappy, don’t ignore it. Ask them why they are unhappy and what you can do to fix the situation. The longer you wait to bring it up, the worse it can get. No one wants to have this uncomfortable conversation, but not only will addressing the issue put you on the path to resolution, but your willingness to face it head-on will tell the client you care about the project and their satisfaction.
2. Have a Do-Over
If it’s your work that the client is unhappy with, start over. Sometimes coming at it again from a different direction will align you closer to what the client is looking for. And make sure you ask the client a lot of questions to get a handle on the idea in their head that you are trying to match. A good designer is sometimes a little bit like a psychic, and asking the right questions will get you the right answers.
3. Get Help
Ask a fellow designer to take a look and give their input. A fresh perspective may help both you and the client see something new. Adding another person to the mix may also help if you’re dealing with a communication issue or personality conflict, and it can facilitate problem resolution.
4. Switch It Up
If the problem stems from miscommunication, try a new format. If you have been handling everything via e-mail, schedule a phone call to see if you can get things cleared up voice-to-voice. After the call, you can summarize the conversation and send the information to the client in an e-mail. This will give you an extra opportunity to make sure you’re both on the same page.
5. Move On
If you’ve done everything you can, but the client is still not satisfied, it may be time to part ways. Be honest, direct and professional. One way to end a client relationship is by recommending them to another designer who may be able to help them better than you can. This supports another designer who you respect, gives the client what they want and gets you out of a frustrating situation. It’s a win-win(-win).
Image credit: Angus Fraser