Mending Mistakes – 5 Strategies to Implement If a Client Relationship Has Gone Sour


You won’t find too many businesses that have had a perfect working relationship with every single client. Sometimes, things go wrong, and relationships end up in tatters. What you do next can make a world of difference to that relationship in the future. Some of these strategies may be able to assist in starting the repairs process.

Peace Offerings

You might be used to handing out corporate gifts to valued staff and long-term clients, but they can also be an ideal peace offering. However, instead of just offering a branded coffee mug, go one step further to ensure the relationship has a sound foundation to work from.

Consider desk caddies and clocks, beautiful letter openers, bar and wine accessories, compendiums, and similar luxury items. It might not heal the relationship, but it can sure keep the door open for communication.

Know What Went Wrong

It can be next to impossible to fix a bad business relationship if you’re unsure what went wrong. You can’t make changes to prevent it from happening in the future, nor can you step up and admit fault if there’s confusion over the cause.

When things start to go south, take a moment to work with your team and establish the facts. Who is involved? What avenues were used for communication? What did the client react to for that relationship to start souring? Once you have this information in-hand, you can decide on your course of action.  


Everyone knows just how important communication in the workplace is. That’s why managers implement systems for communication like weekly meetings, emails, and team project platforms. However, communication with clients when something goes wrong can be just as important.

They want you to answer their questions, and they want solutions. Communicating effectively and quickly can put you in a desirable position. That client should see you are doing your best to fix the problem, so they will likely be more agreeable to working with you in the future.


Apologies are complicated. They can be heartfelt or empty; forced or genuine. Even if you don’t feel like your business was entirely at fault for a soured relationship, it can be in your best interest to apologize anyway.

Think about what an apology can achieve for your business. It might allow you to smooth over the issue and carry on. It could also put your business in a good light, showing your client that you’re willing to move forward and move past the problem. Don’t let your pride or ego get in the way of doing what’s best for everyone involved.

See Them as an Equal

You may know more about a particular subject relating to your client’s business than they do. Still, how you converse with them about that subject can be crucial to your future relationship. Be careful with your tone and word selection.

Avoid being condescending or treating them like they lack the intelligence to understand you. You’d be amazed at how treating them as an equal can benefit your relationship going forward.

Not every client you have now and into the future will end up being your best friend. You may even find that some long-standing relationships go sour at some stage. When faced with such situations, it’s what you do next that matters.

Apologize, offer a peace offering, and communicate your plan of attack. Most importantly, see them as equal and work to establish what went wrong. You can then pick up the pieces and potentially retain that client for years to come. 

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