When doing business, there will really come a time that clients will approach you and present a complaint regarding the project you had with them. Hearing it at first might already cause creased brows and heightened emotions for you but before you react, you need to listen to them first. This is the kind of scenario that sometimes causes a lot of misunderstanding between the designer and the client. But it doesn’t have to be that way. There are always better ways to deal with clients.

If you are having a hard time on what to do when there are complaints, we will help you to face it. For this post, we will be giving you helpful tips on how to deal with client complaints without giving a negative perspective towards your graphic design job. As a designer, look at complaints in a positive manner for you can learn lessons from it and it can also strengthen client relationships if you are able to handle it well. So, read on and learn the good way of dealing with client complaints.

1. Address the problem.

Address the problem

When clients come to you and complain about something, do not just sit there. Tackle the problem and address the complaint. This will make the client feel that you are interested to fix it and that you are willing to communicate with them to clarify the problem. Talk to them well so you can determine what went wrong with a certain project.

2. Listen carefully.

Listen carefully

Listening is very important. You have to be attentive to what the client is saying. Ask questions so you can fully understand the problem. Do not immediately decide unless you have clearly listened and understood the matter. If a client is talking to you and you look distracted and you look away while he is speaking, he will feel unimportant and even insulted. Good listening skills are valuable not just for your fixing complaints but also for your entire career.

3. Apologize.

Have a signed contract

After you have heard the details of the complaint, it is time for you to digest the details. Upon realizing that it was your fault, offer an apology. Fix the problem at once for this is the best way to show that you were really sorry for the mistake. Do not be afraid to accept mistakes because we all make mistakes. If there was merely a misunderstanding, then explain it well to the client.

4. Solve the problem at once.

Solve the problem at once

Do not just talk to the client and then after that, you won’t do anything. You have to solve the problem the soonest possible time. If you are occupied at the moment, you can inform the client that you will work on it as soon as you are done with the design you are working at. But if you can insert it, then finish it first. You will have peace of mind if your problem is already solved. Always remember that in dealing with complaints, the sooner you resolve it, the better.

5. Offer choices of possible solutions.

Offer choices of possible solutions

Negotiate with the client on what he thinks will best work for him. Then talk it over to make sure that the solution can work for both of you. An equitable resolution will make things a lot easier for both parties. If the mistake you have done was quite big, you can offer something like giving them a certain discount or a freebie. This way, you are compensating the lost time of the client and the inconvenience it has caused them.

6. Don’t be defensive.

Don't be defensive

It would be a hindrance to solving a complaint if you will be defensive of your mistake. It will also hinder your being attentive to the words of your clients. You should let the client speak and allow him to have time to be heard. Being defensive will only create a barrier between you and your client. Instead of resolving the problem, it will only aggravate things.

7. Compose yourself.

Compose yourself

The situation when a client presents a complaint could be stressing. It can even become irritable especially if the client does not understand what you are trying to point out. But you have to control yourself from getting mad. Be careful with your words because it might spark out a fight and could even worsen the situation. If you think that you are already irritated, you can let the client know that you will call them back. Talking to them when you can no longer control yourself would not be good for you and for your business. Having this attitude can help you to effectively communicate with the client.

8. Research and study the problem.

Research and study the problem

After your client has delivered his piece regarding the complaint, you don’t have to give an answer right away. Let him know that you will look into it. Find out what really happened that caused the problem. This can let you find the proper solution. This can also let you see certain misunderstandings between you and the client regarding the project. It isn’t your mistake all the time. If a problem is more complex, then allow yourself to figure out a solution for some time to make sure that it will not cause any other problems anymore.

9. Explain further.

Explain further

There are times when nothing is actually wrong with the project and there is merely a misunderstanding between you and the client. Explain things to your client so he can understand everything. Good conversation always leads to better solutions. There are times when the client’s expectation is not met by the output. If that happens, review on what you have discussed because something might be wrong with how the client discussed the project details to you. This way, he will understand that it wasn’t plainly your fault.

10. Follow up.

Follow up

When the problem is settled, follow up with those who complained to be sure they are fully satisfied. Make sure that the client noted some changes that you have done to the design and that he is already happy about it. Doing this will make them feel that you truly care about them.

It’s Your Turn Now

Being able to deal well with client complaints can greatly help you in your graphic design career. This can give a positive impact to your clients and will even be one of the reasons why they will still work with you in the future. From the points above, one of the most important things to remember is composing yourself and controlling your anger. Just remember that no problem is solved by another problem. What can you say with the points we have above?

Kareen Liez

About the author: A Civil Engineer who has a construction business and a youth volunteer for a civic organization. She also contributes for a local newspaper due to her unwavering passion to write.


    1. Hi David. Yes, these are obvious tips but is still important that we are reminded about these things. Everything around us are actually “obvious” only that we are unable to determine which ones are needed to be applied in a certain situation. That is why tips like these, no matter how obvious they are, are still helpful. Thanks for reading 🙂

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