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Navigating Upset Clients: The Art of Handling the 5%

Hey there, business rockstars! 🌟

Let's dive into a topic every entrepreneur encounters: upset clients. As much as we strive for 100% satisfaction, there's always that 5% who, no matter what, seem impossible to please. Fear not; we're unraveling the secrets to handling these situations with grace and turning challenges into opportunities.

The 5% Rule

Here's a golden nugget I share with my team: there will always be 5% of clients who are tough to satisfy. Even with a perfect product or service, they might find fault. If your 5% is creeping higher, it's time to reevaluate and step up your game!

How to Handle the 5%

1. Spotting Red Flags

After running your business for a while, you'll start spotting red flags around challenging clients. Avoid taking them on if possible. Politely decline projects that don't align with your values or if clients display disrespectful behaviour. Your sanity is worth it!

(Want a deeper dive into client management strategies? Check out my full course for comprehensive insights.)

2. Responding to Unhappiness

Sometimes, despite your efforts, you've booked in a challenging client, and they're unhappy. Quick responses are key. Acknowledge their message, even if you can't address it immediately. People want to feel heard and seen.

"When business owners approach customers with empathy, it breaks down barriers and creates a connection that goes beyond a transactional relationship. Customers feel valued and understood, which fosters trust and loyalty towards your company which in return creates lifelong customers." - TextExpander 

3. Addressing the Situation

When you can fully address the situation, take a deep breath, center yourself, and put yourself in their shoes. Compose a thoughtful response, acknowledge their feelings, and offer solutions if possible. Keep it simple, decisive, and efficient.

4. Genuinely Messed Up?

It happens. If you've genuinely messed up, preempt the situation. Be transparent about any flaws in your work. Offer solutions and show you're committed to making things right. Honesty and transparency go a long way in rebuilding trust.

(Learn how to handle mistakes gracefully and turn them into opportunities in my full course.)

5. Kill Them With Kindness

  1. Shower them with compliments.When dealing with a tricky client issue, sometimes the best approach is to kill them with kindness. Start by showering them with compliments and acknowledging their concerns. Even if you don't agree with their perspective, it's important to show that you're listening and that you value their input. So tell them how much you appreciate their business, how impressed you are with their ideas, and how much you're looking forward to finding a solution that works for everyone. (Be genuine here as well - as much as you're hurting - keep the passive-aggressive sarcasm out of it!)

  2. Offer a little extra TLC.If a client is unhappy or dissatisfied with your work, it can be tempting to get defensive or combative. But instead of fighting fire with fire, try offering a little extra TLC. Offer to make some revisions or provide additional services at no extra cost.

  3. Rise above the drama.When all else fails, sometimes the best approach is to rise above the drama and take the high road. Instead of getting sucked into a negative spiral, focus on being kind, empathetic, and professional. Take a deep breath, count to ten, and remind yourself that this too shall pass. And if all else fails, put on your favourite upbeat playlist and dance it out!

Key Takeaways

Dealing with upset clients is part of the entrepreneurial journey. By handling these situations with kindness, transparency, and strategic communication, you can turn challenges into opportunities for growth.

Next Steps: Ready to elevate your client management skills and turn challenges into triumphs? Explore my full course for in-depth strategies and insights.

In this course, we will cover a range of topics related to client management, including how to identify your ideal clients, how to communicate effectively with them, how to set expectations and boundaries, and how to handle difficult situations. We'll also discuss strategies for building trust and rapport with your clients, so that they become not only loyal customers, but also advocates for your business.

Whether you're a seasoned creative or just starting out, this course will provide you with the tools and techniques you need to establish a successful client management strategy. By the end of the course, you'll be equipped with a solid foundation in client management, and you'll be ready to tackle any challenge that comes your way. So let's get started on the road to happy clients and a thriving business!

All of our courses are primarily targeted at creative small businesses - however these tips and tricks are applicable to a multitude of businesses out there! At the core of it all, all businesses operate in a very similar manner, and you'll be apply to apply the information contained to any biz model.

Did that convince you? Yes! YAY! Then let's dive in!  


Robyn Davie is the CEO of the Robyn Davie Creative Studio brand, based in Johannesburg. Her all-female team offers lifestyle photography, photo book design, and studio rental through Fynn Studio.

She has Psychology and Corporate Communication degrees, and is currently doing a masters degree in Germany. She has more than 18 years combined experience, managing her company; working as an art director and wardrobe stylist; running her own jewellery line in Los Angeles; and working in events in New York and Johannesburg.

Her brand has proudly partnered with the iStore from 2020-2023, and won multiple awards through Admired in Africa. Innovation is at the forefront of what they do - always adapting their product offerings, and aiming to stand out from the crowd with fresh, bold and bright photography.

In 2023 the Fynn brand is very excited to start offering online courses to empower other creative entrepreneurs. Robyn is also embarking on an exciting new journey - taking on a masters degree in Sustainability, Innovation and Entrepreneurship from her new base in Germany. Her courses will be infused with the new knowledge she acquires along the way!

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