Love the Idea

Have you got some tricky feedback to share with your client? You want to keep their grace and favour and their business, but you’re worried this will be a nail in the coffin? 

Fear not. Here’s how to share negative feedback with your client and how to foster a positive relationship along the way. So how honest can we be? Let’s find out.

What would your ideal client be like?

Simple and transparent? Easy-going? Really nice? The reality is, that client relationships are much like ones you would have with your colleagues; you spend a lot of time with them, you have to work well together even if you wouldn’t go down the pub, and you want them to like you. You may not have the daily annoyances like leaving dirty mugs around the office, but we’re confident your clients will occasionally get under your skin. 

Jeff Bezos said, “We see our customers as invited guests to a party, and we are the hosts. It’s our job every day to make every important aspect of the customer experience a little bit better.” Imagine if we too saw our clients like this and we aimed to be incredible hosts. Now that’s a game-changer. 

In our experience, clients are all different. Some like a transactional ‘get the job done’ relationship, whilst others like a little chat, they see you as a friend and it would be weird to speak formally to them. Regardless, for all clients, we must deliver and deliver beyond expectations. Part of that is learning how to tell your client they’re wrong. 

We’re all just human.

Everyone makes mistakes and sometimes we can all make business decisions that don’t lead to where we thought they’d go. It’s important to craft a transparent yet approachable relationship with our clients, so when we get it wrong, or they do, the facts can be discussed objectively and a plan can be made moving forward. 

It is up to us to design our client relationships from the outset. We don’t have to replicate the same client’s relationship with your colleague, but we can shape our own. If you have bad news to tell (you’ve got it wrong, mistakes have been made, you’re going to be late for a deadline etc…) hopefully the news is landing on someone who already trusts you. 

Trust comes first.

This should be your primary aim when building client relationships. With trust as the base of everything you will have the flexibility to deliver both good and bad news. 

If you think your client’s brief is perfect, then make sure you tell them! If you don’t, then tell them! They’re paying for your expertise and part of that is enquiring further into what they want, to ensure you get a deep and meaningful outcome. If you lie about how great they are, it will only come back to bite you. 

Communication is everything.

So you can pick up the phone and deliver tricky news without procrastinating about it for days beforehand, you need to communicate well and often. When you’re busy and feeling the pressure, communication can falter. But communication is vital and should be frequent, so your clients know the door is open to share their thoughts and be taken seriously. 

Be upbeat. However your day is going, be consistent so they feel relaxed contacting you, knowing what they see is what they get. Be sure of the aim of the communication before you start so you can have an air of confidence in your delivery. This will help your client trust you, knowing you are in control and you know what you’re doing. No flapping. No harrumphing. Just straightforward positivity and clarity at all times. So when you call with bad news, it lands softly. 

Learn for next time.

When something goes wrong there is always learning to be had, even if it wasn’t your fault. Try and look at the situation and think of one takeaway, let’s call it a ‘Do it Better’ note (a DIB). Each time, come up with your DIB note and move forward, always learning. How we respond to negative comments and how we recover from strained relationships, leads to the most poignant learning. Mistakes make you better, so embrace them, be truthful and own up when they happen. 

“I’ve learned that people will forget what you said, people will forget what you did, but people will never forget how you made them feel” said the great, Maya Angelou. Leave your clients with a lasting impression, in a good way! It is in your power to build your client relationships effectively. You hold the pen and the paper is blank; it’s up to you. If you have a good rapport, you’ll be trusted and listened to, so ‘bad news’ will become ‘OK news’ to ‘just a thing of the past’.

We're a team of happy and creative people with a passion for building new and exciting ideas. We love what we do and always looking for our next challenge big or small.


Lovetheidea Team

Leave a Reply

Your email address will not be published. Required fields are marked *