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A client of ours seems to always complain. We could do many things right, but as soon as something goes wrong, they complain.

What is the best way of handling a client such as this?

closed as too broad by Thomas Owens, Mark Phillips Dec 4 '16 at 0:25

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  • This question lacks sufficient context to be anything other than an opinion poll. Please improve your question with additional details, and narrow your question to something less broad than managing customer complaints in general, as that has no canonical answer. – Todd A. Jacobs Oct 15 '16 at 9:46
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Observe and ponder on situations when things go wrong.

What is that the client complaint about?

(a) about the thing that gone wrong?
(b) that you didn't inform them soon enough?
(c) about the predictability?
(d) about the overall quality?
(e) or something else?

These all fall under the topic stakeholder management!

To make it work for both parties you will need to figure out what is causing agony to the client and take remedial actions where you are failing.
Mistakes happens, but it is how they are perceived what makes it different.

Coach/mentor the team to learn from each mistake, it is important not to do it again. This can severely damage client's expectation and trust on you.

Make sure you highlight those which went well, for both client's and team's benefits. (Help to boost the confidence of the client and morale of the team.)

Remain transparent and honest always.

But if you have tried all the avenues yet situations don't improve, you can be assured you tried your best!

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20% of your clients cost you 80% of your time. I would try to get rid of the 20%.

But to quote you:

but as soon as something goes wrong

I would complain too if something goes wrong, seems a logical cause and effect.

When ever something goes wrong be open and honest about it. After fixing it communicate clearly. Execute a Root-Cause Analyses and communicate how you are going to prevent something similar in the future.

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The best way to reduce the trouble caused by these type of clients is by documenting everything and anything that is related to your project. Get approved by them and Organize it in a common place. Even then if something goes wrong the best way is to agree with the client and accept the mistake.

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Very general advice that will work to some extent, no matter the client:

  • Each time they complain about something, take a note.
  • Then, next time you talk to them, tell them what you've done to address their complaint.

Problem is, actually addressing all of their complaints will take a TON of your time. But if you care about this client, and make a sincere effort--and show them you are making a sincere effort--then you should see some results.

If after all of that, they're still unappreciative... Then it's them, not you.

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I agree honesty and openness is always the best way and if someone complains you have to remain professional and deal with their issue (esp if you have caused it). There is no way out of this one. You may (or may not) get the chance to choose some time in the future whether you want to work with them again.

One thing that may help and reduce the negative 'feel' when this happens is to be clear with them what you will do if they have any issues and working more collaboratively with them (if that is possible) so that you can prevent these instances before they happen.

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Every complaint should be responded with a reason and corrective action to be taken to prevent it's future occurrence.

It should also be recorded for reference.

Outcome of periodic Analysis could be following:

  1. Training need
  2. Process change
  3. Change in team size
  4. Change required in experience level of the team members

Or is it the default behaviour of the client.

Regards

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Stakeholder needs to be more involved and your PM needs to be more transparent, consider complaints as feedback.

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