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When you work for yourself or run a business, keeping clients and customers happy can be essential to your bottom line.

Unfortunately, sometimes things don’t always go as planned. Either it is because of something you did or something that happened to the client or customer.

Often this will result in a request from the client or customer. Most times this will be a reasonable request that is easy enough to accommodate. However, sometimes the request is completely unreasonable.

The challenge then becomes how to make them happy without giving into the unreasonable request or demand.

Communicate Clearly

First, you need to communicate clearly. This can mean asking questions. Concerned and considerate questions can find the root of the problem. The request may provide easier solutions for your future product or service.

Make sure you understand the problem completely before responding to the request or demand or offering another solution.

Once you understand the problem, it becomes easier to set expectations about what can be done. You may not be able to or want to give into the crazy customer request.

However, by informing them of what you can do, you both may be able to find another solution that suits both parties.  

By communicating, you are working with the customer or client. This communication will help them feel like you are trying to be accommodating. This approach doesn’t require you to give in to the unreasonable request.

Own Any Mistakes and Offer a Solution for Unreasonable Demands

If the unreasonable request is a result of something you did, own up to your mistake. Taking responsibility (so long as it isn’t a liability) will help both you and the client to move forward in finding a solution.

If you can, when you take responsibility and apologize be sure to offer a solution. Assure the customer or client that won’t happen again and make sure that holds true.

If your proposed solution doesn’t cut it in the client’s eyes, then revert to communicating clearly. Ensure you fully understand the client or customer’s problem and that they know your limitations. This could help you both to reach a compromise.

Offer a Compromise

Can you meet them somewhere in the middle? Maybe the middle solution does go beyond what you would do on a normal basis. But it doesn’t completely give in to the original unreasonable request.

It shows you are willing to go the extra mile but doesn’t mean you always have to accept the customer’s proposed solution.

For example, perhaps they are asking for a refund after they have already received the goods or services. Possibly they didn’t understand something in the contract and thus didn’t get what they expected.

If you have a contract, you are in no way required to give any refund. Consider if this is an ongoing source of revenue. Can you make an exception and offer a discount on the next order? Is it possible to take the time to review and revise the contract.

Sometimes You Have to Walk Away

Sometimes an agreeable solution cannot be reached, no matter how hard you try. At those times, you just have to walk away. Some clients or customers will never be happy no matter the solution you offer.

To demonstrate how awesome you are, when you walk away, offer a list of other providers. Suggest other businesses that may be able to help them moving forward.

You may not be able to make them happy or give into their unreasonable demands, but you aren’t leaving them high and dry either.

Being Helpful Doesn’t Have to Mean Giving into Demands

Ultimately, keeping a customer happy without giving into their demands means being as helpful and honest as possible. If you set expectations and work to understand the root of the problem, you show that you care and want to help.

Taking responsibility for any mistakes on your end can go a long way in moving forward to finding the solution. Knowing that a solution will likely be a compromise of some sort prepares you.

Unfortunately, no matter how hard you try some clients or customers will just never be satisfied. This means it’s time to walk away.

Pat yourself on the back, even in this scenario. Remember you helped them by providing alternative companies, individuals, or solutions.

Liz is a writer for hire, specializing in personal finance, entrepreneurship, and legal issues. She shares her own journey to debt freedom and helps graduates dealing with above average student loan debt on her site, Less Debt More Wine. She currently resides in NC after calling Massachusetts home for nearly a decade.

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