Maintaining positive client relationships is often a top priority for service businesses. After all, they are the reason you're in business!
However, it's to be expected that from time to time you will encounter challenging client situations that require tactful communications to manage effectively.
As a follow up to our first email template blog post, we've created five more email templates to help you respond to difficult client situations.
Editor's note: This blog post was updated from its original version on 21 May 2020.
1. Clients Changing their Mind After Contract Negotiated
You’ve already spent time negotiating the contract, writing out and agreeing on the brief, and you’re just waiting for the client to hit “GO”. Now, they want MORE changes. What do you say?
Thanks for sending through the new requirements / amendments on the project – we’re definitely happy to amend the current contract to reflect these changes. I’ve outlined the changes you’re proposed below:
Just to let you know, these new amendments actually require us to draw up a new contract, which will take us a few days to finalise. The price will also change. Since this is the third contract we’ve drawn up for this project, we ask that you please make sure you’re satisfied with the new scope and requirements for this project before I create another contract. We would hate for your project to run behind schedule because it was caught up in the contract stage!
Let me know if you’re happy with these new requirements, and if you’re happy for me to proceed with the contract.
2. When you decide to raise your rates
There comes a time when every agency director opens the books and realises it is time the shop had a payrise. As your team upskill and your agency gains experience and reputation within the industry, you’re able to command a higher rate. But telling a long-term client that your rates are rising can be daunting, so here’s a little template to help:
I’m just writing to inform you that starting next month, we’re increasing our rates. The new rate reflects our increased experience, quality service and reputation within the industry.
Rates increases are an unavoidable part of doing business, and we hope we can continue to serve your company long into the future. If you have any questions or need clarification, please don’t hesitate to contact me to discuss your project.
3. When you need to Decline a Project
What happens when you’re already pulling 70 hour weeks and you're having trouble managing the work you already have? Or that troublesome client who you worked with last year and swore you’d never work with again comes back with another project? Occasionally you’ll need to decline a project, but how do you do this while keeping things friendly and not closing the door on future opportunities?
Thanks for your inquiry in regards to your website redesign. This looks like a fantastic project and a great fit for our agency.
Unfortunately, we’re absolutely swamped with work right now, and aren’t currently taking on any new projects. We want to be able to give 100% to all of our clients, and so, we’ll have to pass at this time.
We anticipate coming up for air around March, so if you’re still looking for an agency then, we’d be happy to talk more about your requirements. Otherwise, we wish you luck in your search, and trust you’ll find the right creative team for your needs.
Thank you for your support.
4. Declining a Project because it’s completely crazy
And sometimes, you’ll receive requests that are completely bonkers. Many people simply don’t read your website before inquiring, or they don’t understand the scale required to make an agency job cost-effective, or they just live on planet Mars. How do you decline these requests in a way that doesn’t invite further correspondence, but without being rude or condescending? Here’s a template to help:
Thank you for your inquiry regarding graphic design work for your The Black Vegetable - your garage band’s album cover.
Unfortunately, we’ve not able to take on your project at this time. Your project doesn’t quite fit with the type of work we usually do, and we don’t accept payment in the form of bootlegged tapes signed by the band.
Thank you for thinking of our agency, and we wish you the best of luck with your endeavours!
5. Request a Testimonial / Case Study
Asking for testimonials makes my palms sweat every time I have to do it. Testimonials are the little blurbs your clients give you - where they exclaim over how wonderful you are, how you’ve changed their life and made them rich beyond belief. and why others must hire your or face dire consequences.
You want awesome testimonials from your most loyal clients, but asking for those testimonials can be worse than having teeth pulled.
Here’s a template you can use to send to your top clients. If it doesn’t generate at least one new testimonial, well, the problem isn't with your email ...
Thank you for working with us recently on your Christmas campaign. We really enjoyed the creative challenges in this particular project!
We’re currently in the process of updating our website, and we’re wanting to showcase some client projects in our gallery page. We wondered if you would be happy for this project to be featured on our site and, if so, could you provide us with a few words to accompany it.
You could either provide a short testimonial paragraph describing the experience of working with us, and what results we achieved, or you could simply write a few sentences answering the questions below:
What was the best thing about working with us?
What results has our work generated for your company?
What was your clients’ / the public reaction to our work?
What can we improve on?
Please let us know if you have any questions. Thank you so much for choosing us and we hope to work with you again in the future!
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