How To Pacify Clients When You Fail To Deliver

Written by NaijaEcash

Topics: Entrepreneur, small business

Here is a guest post from a fellow Nigerian Entrepreneur who writes and practices entrepreneurship. He shares a personal experience which illustrates the importance of having a contingency plan for taking care of your clients when you fail to deliver on your promise. Please, do visit his website  Mk Akan to get more business and blogging tips and other resources for free. Enjoy! – NaijaEcash

What Customers Want When You Don’t Deliver

There are situations when the best companies and businesses fail to deliver. It does happen and all the time.

It happens in online businesses and offline businesses. It happens online when you do a launch, offline in customer care, offline in delivery and in any department you can think of.  So when it happens what do you do? What should you do?

Let me tell you a little story.

Sometimes when I am far way from my PC and internet access, I do head to a cyber café to get stuff done online. One day, I dashed into a cyber café. The management had obviously done a great job. They had flat screen monitors, all well arranged with great furniture.

They had functional air conditioner, God, I was so happy. Now I could just cool off and surf the web. I paid for one hour, it was quite costly but, in my mind, it was well worth it.

I sat on the PC close to the air-conditioner and started working. 18 minute later, the unexpected happened. There was a power cut. (Sudden power outage is almost normal so I was not shocked) .

The people in charge scrambled to the back of the building to start the power generator. I was still working thankful that management had thought it good to get UPS (unlimited power supply) and that the power generator would be on in no time.

I was wrong.

10 minutes later, the power generating set wasn’t on and the UPS were not beeping any more. They were screaming, a sign that meant- I gonna go off in seconds”. I was in the middle of something. There was nothing I could do than hope that power would come on.

Then suddenly, it happened, what I feared happened. The UPSes started going off one by one. Mine was the 3rd to go off. Everything I was working on in the last 20 minutes was gone.

All I was doing was gone.

Seconds later, the power came back because they finally put on the generator. One of the workers came in and started putting on the computers. He excused me and put mine on too. After powering up the computers, he left without a word!

I was vexed. I stood up and went to complain at the customer desk.

“I was doing something very important and now I have lost everything” I told the attendant.

“It is not our fault, he replied, there was a power cut and we could not put the power generator in time”. I kept complaining hoping for something to calm me down, they gave me none.

I was very annoyed, it showed on my face.

Even though, I knew about the problem of incessant power cuts, and I knew that mechanical devices like power generator sometimes have problems. Even though I know we are all humans, we sometimes fail in our promise and that things sometimes happen and does not go according to plan. yet I expected a better treatment form that cybercafe than what I got. That brings up the question I want to ask you.

How do you treat your customers when you fail to deliver?

Sometimes the customer just needs you to feel his pain. To sympathize or empathize with him/her.

In the Case above, the attendant or people in charged should have had done any of the following, and I would have been pacified.


He would have apologized after the power cut, apologize when he came to on the PC. Simply saying “please we are sorry for the problem, there was a power out and we could not on the generator in time” would have done the magic. I would have felt better.


I would have been happier if he came  up to say “sorry for the delay…blah, blah, we will add 10 minute to your remaining time”. He didn’t.

My satisfaction wasn’t their concern. They took my money and failed in their service. My money was more important to them than my satisfaction.  They forgot that, “you are not in business to make money, you are in business to serve people and give them satisfaction” after satisfying them, money comes. 

Solve the problem:

Yep, solve it. I may forgive you when you slip once, we may forgive you again if it happens another time, but if keeps happening again, we will just avoid you and your business.

We don’t want to hear your sob stories, we won’t tolerate it.  Just fix the problem and make sure it doesn’t happen again. People pay for quality service or product, not sorry tales!


Do you plan for these unexpected occurrences? How do you handle your inability to deliver on your promise?

Do you have a compensation plan for your customer when you fail to deliver? I’ll surely like to hear your views.

Thank you for your comments.

Mk Akan is an entrepreneur, blogger and publisher of the FastClick, a web-centric magazine published in Nigeria. He blogs at

8 Comments Comments For This Post I'd Love to Hear Yours!

  1. Evelina says:

    Pretty tough subject, however there’s no shortcuts.

    Unsatisfied customers might even drive your business downwards.. no matter your efforts.


  2. Mcneri says:

    You see, that is the reason why many people in 9ja walk around with a frown on their faces. Please if it is not the fault of the person who “could not turn on the generator in time” then who’s fault is it?
    One important lesson anyone providing goods and services should learn is that you make your money….real money from a repeat customer. The reason is that the repeat customer is more likely to tell someone about your business. (Where you dey go? I dey go NaijaECash.). A repeat customer will give you more than one round of profit afterall he has come back. A repeat customer keeps you in business since this is a new occasion to do business. A repeat customer is more likely to tell you how to serve him/her best since there will be more rapport and communication will be more open.
    It is so short-sighted how we bastardize our customers because we have recieved one round of patronage, throwing away the future 99. No wonder we wallow in unsuccessful business while oyibos have discovered these secrets and are waxing strong and making recurrent income. I hope the readers here will learn from this.

  3. mk akan says:

    well, said Mcneri bad service will only kill a business. Poor treatment of customers will surely move a business fast in reverse direction

    • NaijaEcash says:

      @Mk Akan
      I quite agree with you. So many small businesses in Nigeria die as a result of poor treatment of customers. Too many small scale entrepreneur are ignorant of the fact that wealth is made from repeated sales. Not the first sale. A satisfied customer is the best asset any business can have. Not only will the customer return for repeated purchases, but they marketing squad any entrepreneur can ever employ. Instead of using marketing gimmicks to promote your business, they simply share their personal experience. And that works wonder. Just ask any successful entrepreneur, he will confirm it! 😉

  4. Michelle says:

    An aggrieved customer when handled well, can become a satisfied customer who will later on become a loyal customer. It is an established fact that relationships that successfully handled a crisis tends to become stronger and long lasting than those that never had a crisis.
    If your client is upset about your poor performance, it is your responsibility as an entrepreneur to pacify the aggrieved client and restore his or her confidence in your business. That way you will build around your business a strong network of satisfied customers.

    • Leke says:

      I really wish someone will drum this into the head of some small business owners in Nigeria. Some of them treat customer complaints as acts of ingratitude. Instead of seeing the customer as king, they behave as if they are doing the customer a favor by rendering service that is paid for!

  5. ada says:

    Recently I also went through a similar situation that I would like to share; I could not meet a deadline. I had a good track record with this client; and I got scared that he will get angry or postpone the payment or even not continue to work with me.

    But then I thought that he is also a human being and he also went for holidays during New Year. So I wrote him a mail telling the truth that partial work has been done and that I am working day and night to finish it all.

    Surprisingly he did not mind at all; I completed the entire work next day, just 1 day after the deadline. And he sent my payment before I asked 🙂

    Sometimes, we assume that the client will get angry and start imagining a lot of horror stories whereas, accepting the fault and saying the truth can solve many problems.

  6. ejidey says:

    Empathy, ths is key in customer relationship mgt. To feel a customer’s pain, u need to put ursef in their position and u would understand their action. Every business person should understand the need for repeat purchase and customer retention. Its nt about the money made now, bt about repeat purchase, word of mouth referrals and the customer loyalty that would be gained over time. If we are have a proven statistical records, all ths would ve been quantifiable and business owners would understand why they fail sometimes.

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