If you are in business, you have to be prepared for anything and everything. From being a innovator, sales person, accountant, marketer to being the best customer care representative for your business as your employees consciously or unconsciously mirror your attitude and energy and so do your customers. However, what do you do when you encounter straight out difficult clients. By this I mean some random client having a bad day of attitude and just decides:” if I am having a bad day, you will have a bad too” kind of customers.
More than 90 % of clients often purchase from companies with good customer sales experiemce every situation requires a response but how we handle such clients is critical and very important, like diffusing a ticking bomb with mere seconds left.
Here are some common types of difficult clients you may encounter:
He can’t make a single decision without consulting with someone(partner/husband/colleague/boss) back in his office.
Know-it-all type of client: She knows your business better than you do and she’ll tell you everything you’re doing wrong, at the top of her lungs, until you wonder why she’s bothering to hire you in the first place.
The “It’s a simple Job”Type :
Declaring that everything is simple and easy and you won’t have any trouble, while asking for a million customized details and complex systems.
“Emergency, ‘’it must done now client”:
Everything needs to have done yesterday. This client is unaware that we are all slaves to the forces of nature including tiredness. They have no concept of the fact you have other clients and expects you to focus solely to meet her impossible deadlines.
Scrutinize Suzzy :. Suzzy scrutinizes every details of your invoice and tries to eke out as much free work as possible.
Trouble Terrible Terrance: Terry Is used to get what she wants by screaming. She screams down the phone at your staff members and berates you in public over seemingly minor issues about your work.
7 steps to dealing with difficult clients
No matter how your client is being difficult, the steps to managing them are still the same. Here’s how we recommend calming the waters or a turbid client relationship.
STEPS TO HELP YOU THROUGH WITH DIFFICULT CLIENTS.
1. Stay calm (No public tantrums)
A customer maybe behaving terribly. Even if a client is screaming at you down the phone or making a scene in the office, you’ve got to remain cool and collected. If you stoop to their level of hostility, you put your reputation on the line. You get your point across much clearer with a calm voice and stern demeanor.
If you’re calm, you can often encourage them to be calm, as well
2. Listen to their concerns
We all feel appreciated when someone is listening to us with genuine interest and concern. Often, a difficult client feels as though the process has run away with them, and they want to be heard. Simply taking the time to listen to their problems without getting defensive could be all that’s needed to solve the issue. Empathy is key.
Make sure your client understands that you’re focused on their problem (even if it’s an a real problem). Ask follow-up questions, repeat their statements back to them, and acknowledge that you’ve heard and understood. Ask them to clarify so you can get to the root of the issue.
3. Deliver a prompt reply
Time awaits no man and with a difficult client, this statement has never been so true. Every passing second makes them more agitated, so try to resolve the issue as fast as possible.
As soon as a client raises an issue, make it a priority to get it sorted out. When you do this, you validate the client and they feel valued. You’re not accepting blame (and you should try to avoid saying you’re sorry at this stage), but you are establishing a good communication from the start.
4. Figure out what exactly happened
Over exaggerating what your product or service does will soon be an issue and that’s a fact. Often, client problems arise when they have expectations that are out of alignment with the service you deliver, or when a communications issues has made them believe one thing, when actually the opposite is true.
Identify the loopholes in communication and how you might be able to improve processes or communication in the future.
5. Offer a solution
Again, this isn’t about admitting you’re wrong (in many cases, you won’t be), but in finding a way to solve the problem for the client without losing your head in the process.
If you’re in the wrong, admit it upfront, and show the client how you’ll make amends and get their project back on track.
If the client is in the wrong, then point to the relevant clauses in their contract or letter of agreement, and explain that you’re happy to wipe the slate clean, but with a careful outline of what they can expect from here.
Customer Is Always Right
If a communication breakdown is to blame, then offer alternative ways to communicate so the client feels included. Give them options – a monthly phone call, email update, face-to-face meeting, or regular check-ins via your client management dashboard – so they can choose what works best for them.
6. Cut your losses
According to Hootsuite CEO Ryan Holmes, finding a solution to a difficult client will often cut into your bottom line. At the end of a difficult client’s job, you may come away without any profit for all your efforts.
Your reputation and integrity are more important than your bottom line. Fixing the problem – even if that solution comes at a loss – will have benefits for you in the future. Your previously-difficult client may turn into a dream client, fiercely loyal and excited to tell all their associates how you went the extra mile.
Sometimes, you won’t be able to fix an issue, and you’ll have to terminate a difficult client. This can be heartbreaking (especially if it’s the first client relationship that’s gone sour), but if you keep your dealings professional, you’ll come out stronger and smarter.
7. Review and learn
Take a step back and evaluate what happened. Ask yourself:
Why did this problem arise in the first place?
What could we have done to prevent it?
What lessons have we learned that we can apply in the future?
There may be simple solutions – clarifying communications, changing workflow processes, re-wording contracts – that could prevent a repeat situation.
Having a sense of humor about the experience will help you pull through. Check out the site Clients from Hell for horror stories from agencies and designers.
When worst comes to worst… firing a difficult client
Sometimes, even if you follow the steps above, things between you and your client don’t get any better. Prioritize your client list to focus on the clients who bring in the majority of your revenue, while also being the easiest to work with. By getting rid of your “D-and-E-list clients,” you free up space to bring on more A-list clients and improve your bottom line.
Wind up important work. Leaving a client in the middle of a vital project will give you a bad taste in your mouth, and may harm your reputation. Where possible, try to complete important contracted work before proceeding with the termination.
Keep calm. We’ve already talked about the importance of maintaining a professional demeanor. Use diplomatic language when explaining to the client why you’re terminating the relationship. Don’t be drawn into shouting matches or arguments over social media.
Connect an work with other companies so you can refer them elsewhere. Just because a client isn’t the right fit for your business, doesn’t mean they won’t find the help they need somewhere else. Find some potential firms the client may wish to engage. Once they’ve engaged a new service, help them to move their data across.