The dreaded tough client convos. Unfortunately, they're unavoidable.
So, how do we best deal with them when they come our way?
We’re here to walk you through how to handle the tough client conversations in the pet industry. Things like… last minute cancellations, unhappy clients, price increases, etc.
As pet business experts who LOVE talking all things processes, systems, and saving time, we wanted to go over two components to take into consideration when dealing with situations like this:
How do you deal with the situation at hand?
How do you prevent it from happening in the future
How to deal with the tough situation at hand
1. First things first… take a deep breath!
My biggest suggestion is always to walk away, even if just for a few minutes. Personal experience and the experiences of others have taught me that in the heat of the moment, we can make poor decisions. So, step away, let yourself calm down enough to think rationally about the best path forward.
And, of course, remember that client complaints have NOTHING to do with your own worth. You and your business are separate. Do your best to not take these complaints personally.
P.S. Ever thought a client or customer was angry but then later learned maybe they weren’t so irritated after all? Sometimes as a business owner we take things soooo personally we immediately get defensive when clients just want some clarification! When possible, take a step back and take the email for the content itself vs. the emotions behind it.
2. Take in the specific problem.
Re-read the email or re-listen to the voicemail. What is the EXACT complaint? The client isn't simply "unhappy with the service." There's a source of the problem in their message. For example, maybe a client is unhappy with your photos. But, the specific problem was actually the lighting. Could that be an easy fix? Or, say a client is frustrated with the results from your dog training program, but the problem was specific to that the client felt unsupported in between sessions. Could that be an easy fix?
Not only can this provide insight into solutions but it is also helpful when you address the problem with the client.
3. Acknowledge the specific emotion/feeling they expressed.
The main reason for complaints is that clients want to be understood and heard. By addressing their expressed feeling/emotion in your response, you’re letting them know that you hear them (no matter whose ‘fault’ the problem is). Sometimes 75% of the battle is just letting your client know you care and you hear them.
4. Refocus the drama on solving the problem!
Sometimes the emotions of a client complaint can spiral, causing drama for both you and the client. Where possible, always bring back the focus to solving the problem rather than extending on and on about the drama of the problem. By ensuring your dedication to fixing the problem, regardless of the solution, that’s where things can move in a better direction.
5. If it’s too much on you, don’t be afraid to stand up for yourself and your business.
If you need to stand your ground on the issue, be clear and direct (yet respectful and understanding). Let them know that you recommended a specific time because of the lighting, but they still wanted to do X time. Remind them of your dog training communication protocols that they knew before starting the program.
However, even with standing your ground, you can still offer solutions based on customer service. For example, can you offer a discounted re-shoot? Can you offer an add-on for your client for check-in phone calls in between sessions?
How to prevent them from happening again in the future
1. Put systems in place
One of the best things you can do for your pet business is to put systems and processes in place. These things evolve over time as different occurrences take place. If you have multiple pet owners complaining about the support in between dog training sessions, perhaps it’s time to either evaluate your service offerings or make sure you’re extra clear about what your program includes.
Take notice of repeated complaints or questions and use those to offer solutions before the next complaint or question comes in. Sometimes a little clarity is all that’s needed, and those things can be easily implemented into a sales page, service description, welcome packet, client contract, email template, etc.
2. Set clear boundaries and policies
When you get client complaints or requests for refunds, it’s essential to have policies in place that handle these situations for you. That way, if someone cancels at the last minute, you don’t lose all of your money. If someone wants a refund but it’s past the refund deadline, you have your signed contract to back you up when you respond. Not only can this protect you, but it can help you feel more confident when handling it in the future. Great places to include these boundaries and policies are in your client contracts, email templates, welcome packets, email signatures, etc.
If you need help compiling email templates for difficult situations, we’ve got you covered!
Our Email Templates Guide for Pet Businesses includes 42 professionally crafted email templates to help you save time and hit the ‘send’ button with confidence! Some of the difficult situation templates included are:
When clients ask for discounts
When clients need extra help
When You have angry clients or need to fire a client
When clients want more
(Other templates include: sales pitches, sponsored collaborations requests, guest blogging/podcast requests, partnerships, request for reviews and referrals, responses to inquiries, initial call follow-ups, on-boarding/welcome emails, off-boarding/following service emails, when they haven’t booked in a while, pet birthdays, and adding/expanding services).
Don’t just hear it from me! See what other pet business owners had to say about implementing these email templates into their own pet businesses:
Heidi from Heidi & Hope Pet Services:
“Before I purchased the email templates guide, I was kind of "winging it" when it came to emails with clients/potential clients - which is not only a bad idea, but it was also super time consuming since I was basically writing the same email over and over again for the same topic. Overall, I didn't feel confident enough that I had all of the correct information/tools that was easy for clients to access and coming across as professional. After completing the guide, I not only feel more confident in communicating with clients, I've also learned a ton of information about Gmail that I never knew! I also think it's SUPER important to think about tough situations with clients and this guide definitely helps you navigate those situations with the templates. I loved the assistance on how to come across when selling your product/services and collaborating with other businesses (which is usually an awkward conversation). Learning how to make a professional and unique email signature is worth the whole price of this guide, just saying! ;)”
Mary Ellen from Pet Waggin’ Pet Care:
“Once again I am incredibly impressed with the products and services provided by Pet Marketing Unleashed! Mikaela understands that her clients work in the service industry and communication is vital for us to succeed. How we present our unique message speaks volumes about our brand and who we are. Add to that the fact that if there is one thing small business owners don't have a lot of it's TIME. This product is a game changer, it will save me so much time! It's beautifully designed and comprehensive in its content. The value of this product can't be overstated.”
Grace from CoPaws Dog Training:
“As a new business owner, I was really uncertain about so many things, not the least of which was client communication. I was constantly second-guessing myself. Having the email templates is so helpful because I don't have to wonder if I'm doing it right anymore. All I have to do is customize and hit send. I feel SO much more confident knowing that my client communication is covered.”