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5 minute read

How to Win an Unhappy Recruitment Client Back

When your job is entirely about providing a service every day, it’s inevitable you’ll be faced with an unhappy client somewhere down the line. But whether it’s something in your processes they don’t like or they’re not happy with the way you’ve handled a situation, don’t worry – you can still turn things around.

Here are some things you can do to save, mend and potentially even improve your relationship with an unhappy client, so you can both move forward and continue doing business together.

Address the issue ASAP

A recruiter holding out flowers and chocolates for a client. Hiding from your client because you know they’re unhappy in the hope that they’ll eventually forget is a cowardly move that won’t go unnoticed.

So pick up the phone to your client as soon as possible, even if you know it’s not going to be a pleasant conversation. Your maturity in approaching the problem head-on will put you in a much better position than if you try to put it off in the hope that they’ll eventually ‘cool off’.

Let them talk

Listening is an essential step towards improving a damaged relationship, so allow your client some space to vent their frustration. Resist the temptation to cut them off and defend yourself, as this will only make things worse. 

Use active listening techniques – like repeating back what the client says to you and maintaining eye contact (if you’re face-to-face) – so they know that they have your full attention. If they think for even one second that you’re not listening, you could lose your chance to salvage the relationship.

Empathise with your client

A recruiter and client having a pleasant conversationEmpathy is key to rebuilding the relationship, so put yourself in your client’s shoes and try to understand the situation from their point of view.

If the client doesn’t feel like you understand their point of view, the issue will only escalate, so try using statements like “I completely understand why you think that” or “I understand your frustration with this”.

Empathising with your client like this doesn’t necessarily mean you’re accepting any blame - it just helps defuse an escalating situation.

That said, if the fault does lie with you, always put your hands up, admit that you’ve made a mistake and tell your client that you’ll do everything in your power to fix it.

Be the proactive problem-solver

It’s possible your client is unhappy because of an issue that’s occurred somewhere down the line during the hiring process. Adopting the role of problem solver is a great way to show you care, prove you’re a trustworthy recruiter again and get back in their good books.

Ask the question “How can I solve this for you?” or “What do you feel would be the ideal resolution?”. Again this doesn’t mean you have to deliver what they ask for, but it’ll buy you some time to decide what you’re able to do.

This proactive approach will also allow you to start moving things forward and get your client thinking about working with you again.

Be specific with your apology

A handshake Offering a blanket apology or saying “I’m sorry you’re unhappy” will just add fuel to the fire as it gives the impression you’re only apologising for the sake of business and you’ll come across as insincere.

You need to offer an apology that demonstrates you understand why your client is unhappy, and unfortunately, this can involve taking responsibility for things that were out of your control.

This can be a hard pill to swallow, but it’s the best way to show the client that your apology is genuine and sincere – which is essential if you want to convince your client to continue working with you. So just think about the long-term pay-off for taking this short-term hit!

Demonstrate how you’re going to ensure it won’t happen again

It’s absolutely essential that you reassure your client that the situation is a one-off. hank them for highlighting a flaw in your approach or process and explain what you’ve put things in place to ensure you can continue working together without the threat of more problems.

This can also work as a bit of an ego-massage technique for your prospect as they’ll feel like they’ve helped you become a better recruiter.

Just make sure you continuously follow up with your client after you’ve resolved the issue, even when you’re confident you’ve put things right. Your client will appreciate your diligence and it’ll help ensure everyone’s on the same page moving forward - after all, communication is the key to both personal and professional success!

Do you wan't to avoid dealing with an unhappy client again? This eBook will teach you nine good habits that'll make you a more effective recruiter and help you build better relationships with all your clients moving forward. 

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About the Author: Jo is a Growth Specialist at Firefish. With over 20 years experience in recruitment software, Jo is an expert at helping recruiters work smarter with tech.

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