Managing Irate Clients

Linda Huffman
Sales Manager
Tierra Antigua Realty | Sierra Vista


It’s bound to happen one day: A client will be furious over some aspect of a deal, your communication, or a misunderstanding. Here’s how to put out that fire while preserving the relationship.

  1. Get Ready for “The Call”

Prepare yourself. Good posture, test smile, take a good, long breath. Remember that you’re here to save the relationship, not “win” anything. Now make (or take) the call.

  1. Let the Client Blow Off Steam

Most angry clients are going to have a speech they want to get off their chest. You want to let them do so without interrupting them at all. Don’t stop them with “I understand” or “I get it” or “I see”. If you do, they won’t feel they’ve had their say. Let them vent without distraction .It’s important that they release their pressure.

  1. Listen Closely

There’s bound to be some merit in their complaint, and if there isn’t, there’s certainly an opportunity to identify their real fears or frustrations. Actively listen .If you need to, take notes so you can refer to their points when the conversation cools down.

  1. Verify their Complaint to Make Sure You Understand

Repeat their complaint, word-for-word if need be. Don’t paraphrase too much – you want to demonstrate you’ve heard them clearly. If you paraphrase you risk the impression you weren’t paying attention. Confirming the problem is the cornerstone from which you’ll begin to address the situation. In fact, you’ll want to ask them if what you’re repeating to them is accurate. This gets them to agree with you, which is important for moving forward.

  1. Empathize

Showing empathy is crucial. It begins to defuse the explosive situation. You’re working towards a point where you can provide excellent service and a real solution.

  1. Ask What You Can Do to Solve the Problem

Get their opinion on what would make it right. Ask open-ended and close-ended questions. Use these questions to get all the information possible. Respond by developing a plan to resolve their problem. If they don’t agree, find out what they would like to see. Here you’ll understand if they are unrealistic. Give them options or alternatives or ask them again what you can do to fix the problem. If you can get them invested in the resolution, they’ll take some ownership of the plan of action and be more open to agreeing to the solution.

  1. Get to Agreement

At this point you’ll want to jointly agree on the action plans you’ll both take to solve the problem. Don’t impose the action plan on the clients. They need to verbally accept the action plan willingly. Simply ask: “Does this direction sound like the right way to go?” You’re looking for a response something along the lines of: “Sounds good.”

  1. Apologize Again

You have nothing to lose by apologizing and everything to gain. Clients respond positively when you apologize. They may even apologize for their behavior. If you can’t apologize sincerely, don’t apologize. If your tone comes across negatively, this will destroy your credibility (and the effort put forth so far!)

  1. End the Call Affirmatively

Be absolutely sure that the conversation has fully addressed the problem. Don’t end the call until you’ve come to a mutually satisfactory point. If for any reason the issue must be continued, let them know what you will do to move the ball forward and when you’ll be in touch again.

  1. Be Sure to Follow Up

Following up with an email, voice mail or text message depending on the client’s communication style, the next day or so can be important to reinforcing your status in their mind as a service-oriented, considerate agent. It also shows that you took the conversation seriously and also ensures that the issue is truly put to rest.