Every human relationship has good and bad moments; in business terms, this means that dealing with different kinds of personalities can sometimes create friction. As a business owner, you need to be polite in all cases and provide your customers with the best customer support possible.
But sometimes your clients may seem impossible to please and you just run out of ideas to help them and get your good intentions recognized. Occasionally, your clients have unreasonable demands or react badly to a slight change of plans.
Being a professional is all about handling difficult clients with diplomacy and tact.
Whatever the case might be, it’s important to be prepared to find common grounds or set your limits. Here are a few tips that will help you navigate through the drama some clients deliver.
#1 – Let them “steam-off”
Give your clients time to express how they feel; sometimes it’s the only thing they need before moving forward and resolving the issue.
Even if you don’t feel your company is responsible in any way for their discomfort – apologize.
This way they’ll know you have a genuine interest in their feelings and will make them more inclined to hear what you have to offer!
#2 – Listen to your client’s point of view
No matter how difficult a client might be, their problem probably has a reasonable explanation (well, most of the time). Or, you may find out that you don’t even share the same viewpoint.
This is when you need to respect their opinion and deliver a response that shows just that.
If, for example, your customer is not happy about a policy you follow, explain to them why it’s in place and how it applies to the situation at hand. Other times you may even agree with their perspective – sometimes policies are rigid – so try to offer them an alternative to ease their frustration. It all comes down to your willingness to help and even the most difficult clients respect that.
#3 – Respond to the issue ASAP
If you are able to fix the issue at hand immediately, do it!
Even if it means bending the rules you established yourself. Of course, this should not be a panacea for all the future problems your clients come to you with.
You will come across all types of difficult customers in your business dealings, but your firm should not be pushed over by their whims. You will find out soon enough that wasting time on constantly complaining clients costs you – a lot. The time spent trying to satisfy them could be spent on several other clients that are already satisfied with your services.
#4 – Let them know when they overstep their bounds
When a client makes it impossible to communicate with them in a civilized manner, you are in no way obliged to tolerate that kind of behavior.
So, the moment they cross the line, politely informs them that you no longer wish to continue your business relationship.
Every businessman who has experience in the market should be in a position to distinguish unreasonable customers from demanding ones.
#5 – Recognize difficult clients
It is very important to identify a difficult client at the early stages of your working relationship. Over time, you will gain that ability, even more, the hard way. So in order to avoid multiple failed collaborations, it’s better to take it one step at a time.
Even though, clients usually seek a “permanent” partner it is best for both sides to undertake a small project at the beginning of your business relationship.
Should you realize that they have the tendency to ruin the scope every now and then or have crazy demands — that should be a warning sign. If all goes smoothly, chances are you can cooperate successfully in the long run.
Ultimately and regardless of the case, you need to bear in mind that every person has a reason that they react in a certain way. In the majority of cases, a client may be dealing with pressures beyond your knowledge; from their boss, their own customers, and their personal life. Of course, it’s not your job to resolve those issues but you have to offer them customer support with empathy. However, if you own a start-up and your business’s survival depends on the income a difficult client brings into your company, you are wasting your time thinking their behavior will change in the future. It is better to focus your time and energy on how to attract new clients that will need less “support” and that will not take up so much of your daily work schedule.