Using ‘The HEART Method’ to help an unhappy client

The HEART Method

When you work in Client Services, or work in a position where you could encounter an unhappy client – it’s always great to have a few tools in your back pocket.

I was recently reminded of this one just the other day – and it’s a great one… It’s called ‘the H.E.A.R.T. Method’ and it’s just one of the many tips and tricks we teach in our CSR Mastery online training program at Agency Revolution.

As you have likely guessed, H.E.A.R.T is an acronym.  It stands for:

H: Hear
E: Empathize
A: Apologize
R: Respond
T: Thank

So, let’s break each one down a little further – and I’ll share some pointers along the way.


Listen to what the client is saying and don’t interrupt! It’s their turn to talk, vent, share their experience, describe the problem, and perhaps teach you a thing or two about your product, service, or customer experience journey.

I often take notes – especially if they bring up an ‘actionable item’ or something I can identify as “needs fixing”. Sometimes it’s a process and sometimes it has nothing to do with the direct complaint the client might have.

It’s amazing what you can learn if you listen – as the famous saying goes, ‘We have two ears and one mouth so that we can listen twice as much as we speak. – Epictetus

Listening is one of the most imporant parts of helping an unhappy client


Let them know you understand.  It’s okay to say, ‘I can see why that would be very frustrating’, or even ‘I would feel angry too’. When things don’t go well, it’s reassuring to know you are not in the boat alone – and more importantly that someone cares and takes their experience (and the feelings that come with it) seriously.


It can be as simple as ‘I’m sorry that that happened.’ Or ‘I’m sorry that ‘x’ made you feel that way.’ I realize that odds are you couldn’t single handedly prevent the issue from happening – but it’s happened and it’s okay to empathize and apologize for someone else’s unfortunate situation.


You need to share with them how you are going to respond to what they have just shared. Now keep in mind that you might not be able to “fix” or “reverse” whatever has happened, but you can (and should) commit to something. Perhaps it’s a promise of an email or a follow up phone call. Remember they are looking for action.


Thank your client for bringing the issue to your attention

Thank your client for taking the time to reach out and share their story. Why? They were kind enough to take the time to share something that likely needs fixing or improving. Not only that – they are also giving your company a chance to ‘make right’ and turn a disgruntled client into a raving fan.

Often, there is something I can fix, adjust, or change to make their future experience better or less likely to happen again. And isn’t that what all companies should be striving for? Constant improvement of product and process to provide the client that ‘Wow’ experience every time?

If you found this helpful and are interested in helping your CSR’s become the best in the industry, you might consider checking out Agency Revolution’s CSR Mastery Program where we cover not only the H.E.A.R.T method but also The Lagniappe Principle, The Principle of Belief, Apples to Oranges, and lots of other valuable curriculum designed to help your team deliver the ‘Wow!’ experience.

Lucy Borne is the Director of Client Experience for Agency Revolution.  She has worked at Agency Revolution for nearly 9 years.  Lucy oversees the Professional Services Department, Customer Support Team, Implementation Team, as well as the Web Design Team.  Her goal is to ensure excellent client support and a delightful client experience for all Agency Revolution clients.

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