Handling Clients With Unrealistic Expectations

Handling Clients With Unrealistic Expectations

Wondering how to handle clients with unrealistic expectations? It’s not a cause for concern, as all business owners have been there at a time.

Ideally, the concept of an overbearing or unrealistic customer should not exist in the first place.

This because, as a service-oriented organization, client service and satisfaction are non-negotiable.

Customers expect to be taken care of or provided with a solution to satisfy his or her needs. 

That being said, there are clients whose expectations can push through the parameters of an organization.

If handle properly, it could serve as an added advantage to the business, and if not, it could pose a risk to the business.

This article is aimed at helping businesses tackle a situation where it seems like a client or some customers have unrealistic expectations. 

We will be identifying who an unrealistic client is.

Also, we will see the reasons why an unrealistic client needs to be handled properly.

The disadvantages of not handling an unrealistic client will also be considered.

Lastly, we will see how a business can successfully handle the case of an unrealistic client.

How to Handle Clients with Unrealistic Expectations- Who is Such Client?

A client with an unrealistic expectation is a client who constantly makes a difficult request.

This request is oftentimes not within the parameters of what your business offers.

Also, such client’s requests often seem unattainable because they do not understand your business, policies, guidelines, etc.

Furthermore, a client with an unrealistic expectation is one whose needs are not factual.

Unrealistic expectations from clients vary from client to client.

It could be an infeasible deadline for a task or project.

It could also be an unattainable project or task desired by the client.

Having a client with an unrealistic expectation could either pose an advantage or a disadvantage for the business.

Let’s examine these scenarios.

Importance/Advantages of Handling Clients with Unrealistic Expectations

As we earlier stated, a client with an unrealistic expectation cuts both ways.

It could either be an advantage or a disadvantage depending on how the business chooses to handle the situation.

Below are the importance and advantage of handling a client with unrealistic expectations;

Opportunity to Expand Parameters

The existence of an overbearing, unrealistic, or far-reaching customer is not necessarily a problem.

It could also be an opportunity to expand and rearrange the existing parameters of the organization and how it relates to its customer base.

Once it is on record that two or three preexisting clients have approached you with certain expectations, it’s left to you to understand that your business’s current parameters are inefficient.

Therefore, such requests from a client are not to be taken lightly.

It is an opportunity for the organization to reorient its clients’ relations and recognize their expectations. 

Helping Clients Figure out What they Want

A client who has an unrealistic expectation also helps you bridge the gap between your client’s wants and your client’s needs.

Sometimes clients do not know what they need, and they mistake it for what they want.

Rather than seeing your client’s need as unrealistic, assist them to figure out what they need rather than what they think they want.

An additional angle to this could be when clients know what they want but do not know how to communicate it to the business.

This makes the requests look unrealistic and unattainable.

It is up to the business to assist the clients in figuring out what they want when handling their unrealistic expectations.

Retaining Customer Relationship

Handling a client with unrealistic expectations appropriately still helps you to retain the client.

This you do by creating a sense of belonging from the client to the business.

Regardless of whether the business would help the client achieve that expectation or not, the company or business has the opportunity to retain their relationship with the client if they can handle the situation properly.

Boost in Employee’s Enthusiasm

Inadequate handling of a client who has an unrealistic expectation can cause employees to grow tired and frustrated.

However, handling it properly and professionally helps boost your employee’s confidence, enthusiasm, and ability to do their jobs.

It also helps them to communicate with this client smoothly.

Prevents Churn and Attrition

Additionally, it prevents cases where clients leave a business due to their inability to take care of their needs and expectations.

Dissatisfied and displeased clients will make no hesitation in leaving your business for a competitor if their needs or expectations are not met.

Boosts Brand Image and Reputation

When you can figure what seems to be an unrealistic expectation, you stand the opportunity to boost your brand and image.

Since the clients are pleased and satisfied, they share their experiences with others in their network or environment.

This not only gives your business good publicity, but it also boosts your brand image and reputation among your competitors.

Acquiring New Clients and Saving Costs

Satisfied and pleased clients not only spread reviews that boost your company’s image.

They also help you save on the cost of marketing, advertising, and reaching out to new clients.

This is because pleased clients recommend and refer your company or business to other people who could turn out to be potential clients.

Disadvantages of not Handling Clients with Unrealistic Expectations

When clients with unrealistic expectations are handled properly, it could negatively affect the business.

These situations are known as disadvantages, and they include the following;

Loss in Profit

Not handling clients with unrealistic expectations makes them seek solutions and answers elsewhere.

Sometimes, this is with a competitor.

This then leads you to lose profits or experience a decrease in your revenue.


Another disadvantage of mishandling a client with an unrealistic expectation is that there is a possibility that the client might leave your business.

Such a situation is known as churn or attrition.

Stress and Frustration of Employees

Additionally, a disadvantage of not adequately handling a client with an unrealistic expectation is that it reduces the morale and enthusiasm of your employees.

This is by constantly causing them stress and frustration while trying to handle the client.

Employees whose morale and enthusiasm are down cannot deliver the best results.

Bad Brand Image and Reputation

A business that fails to handle a client who has an unrealistic expectation carefully and professionally is posed with another risk.

This is the risk of having negative reviews and remarks from this client who already feels dissatisfied and displeased.

When your business has a bad review or reputation, you could lose your pre-existing clients and potential clients.

This not only affects your finances but your company’s growth and expansion.

Increased Expenses and Costs

An increase in expenses and costs occurs when you fail to handle a client with unrealistic expectations. 

Rather than acquiring new clients from good publicity and reviews, you lose new and existing clients due to bad publicity.

Also, you have to channel more of your resources into marketing, rebranding your companies image, and trying to acquire new clients.

Loss of Client Relationship (Loyalty and Retention)

Mishandling or mismanaging an unrealistic client can cause you to lose a relationship with such a client.

This relationship could be in the form of the client’s retention or loyalty to your business or company.

How to Handle Clients with Unrealistic Expectations

This is an essential part of the article.

This is because it entails how to handle unrealistic expectations from a client.

As a result, preventing you from customer dissatisfaction and harming your business.

Define your Offers

One of the first and best ways to deal with a client who has an unrealistic expectation is to manage their expectations.

This you do by setting the foundation right before entering a business transaction or onboarding them as a client.

This is done by clearly stating your abilities, capacities, and what you offer as a business.

Also, ensure that your client fully understands this before entering into any business agreement.

It is also advisable to put this into writing and communicating with the client constantly.

Understand the Client and Figure out what the Client Needs

When dealing with a client who has unrealistic expectations, you must first understand what the client wants.

It could be by striving to understand your client’s needs, objectives, and goals.

Also, it includes the feasibility and alignment of their needs and goals with the services and products you offer.

It also involves helping them plan and carrying out a survey and research on their request.

That way, you can understand your clients’ needs and be on the same page with them.

Expand your Parameters to Handle the Needs of Clients with Unrealistic Expectations

Dealing with a client who has an unrealistic expectation could be an opportunity for you to expand your parameters.

It could also be an avenue to meet the client’s needs better.

Expanding your parameters could mean introducing new products and services that meet the needs of your client.

Of course, this has to be done after careful consideration of the need in question.

Be Transparent

Transparency in dealing with a client who has an unrealistic expectation involves not hesitating to tell your client the truth.

It also involves telling your clients ways and approaches that could help them achieve their needs.

This, too, while trying to approach it from both their perspective and a professional/realistic perspective.

Decide on Whether you can Help the Client, keep them or let them go

As we earlier stated, every client-oriented business strives to please its clients while also making profits.

Therefore, you would need to decide whether to keep them or let them go because client dissatisfaction can ruin your business.

All these can be determined after answering certain questions;

Can you help them?

Can you expand your parameters to meet their needs?

Does your business need the income provided by the client? 

The answers to these questions could help to determine your next cause of action.

Know When to Say No

Saying no can save your business the risk of losing a client and other pre-existing and potential clients. 

When you have done your research, evaluation and realize that you can not help the client, politely let them go.

This is because attempting something else could lead to client dissatisfaction and disappointments.

And that could negatively affect your business.

Communicate Constantly

Sometimes, a client making unrealistic demands can occur if the business or company misinterpreted or misunderstood the client’s intentions.

This could be corrected by asking certain questions that enable you to understand all the clients’ requests fully.

Do not Be Too Eager to Please

Often, companies or businesses try to be charming or try to be too eager to please or land a client by all means.

Therefore, they agree to everything they say or request without considering certain factors.

It could be that your client’s need is unrealistic, or you do not have the capacity or abilities to deliver on such a need.

This is why regardless of how much you want to acquire new clients for your business, you must be truthful to the client and yourself.

This is to completely avoid having to deal with a client who has an unrealistic expectation.

Listen and Listen Well

Communication with the client who has an unrealistic expectation also entails listening to the client.

Listening helps you further understand the client in question by respectively and attentively listening to them without interruption.

This helps to identify the need and determine the next course of action.

While this might seem unimportant, it helps you gain the client’s trust and build a relationship.

Provide Quick Solutions

Just because a client’s need is unrealistic does not mean that they should be kept on a wait-list or left hanging for a long period. 

Like any other client you may have, a client with an unrealistic expectation also looks forward to a solution or an answer.

It could be;

  • referring the client to another business
  • or meeting with the client to discuss other possibilities and opportunities,
  • or letting them go,

Whatever the case, do it promptly.

Show Empathy

Clients with unrealistic expectations also deserve to be shown care and concern like every other client. 

Your care and concern for your client help you manage their expectations in ways that benefit you and the client.

Be Patient

Handling clients with unrealistic expectations also requires patience.

It is a way of looking beyond the frustration being caused by the client.

Rather, it involves figuring out how to handle the situation without upsetting or disrespecting the client.

Offer Recommendations and Realistic Solutions

Do not just rule out the client who has needs and goals that appear to be unrealistic.

The company or business has to provide some form of direction and solution to the client.

This could sometimes refer them to other businesses, companies, or agencies that offer what they are looking for.

Follow up on the Client

It is essential that you not only recommend other businesses to the client.

You should also ensure that the client is getting the solution or answers that they need.

This could be done through constant communication.

Where you ask them for updates, progress reports, experiences, as well as their final decisions.

Final Words on How to Handle Clients with Unrealistic Expectations

The case of a client who has an unrealistic expectation should not be taken for granted.

As undesirable as the thought of having a client with an unrealistic expectation maybe, it is essential.

This is because it is one of the situations and circumstances that a business or company sometimes faces.

And the business or company must strive to deal with all types of clients that they encounter.

This is because it affects not only their finances, reputation, and image of the business but the survival of the business.

Therefore you must not see having difficult clients or clients with unrealistic expectations as a waste of time.

Instead, see it as a means of protecting and saving your business.