Handling stressful clients is not a topic many people, freelancers and companies especially, like to address. This is often because many businesses are used to ‘the customer is never wrong’ mentality. Now, when a company has a ‘trouble’ client who may be wrong in any given scenario, the right thing in their mind to do is to follow the usual ‘the customer is always right’ mindset to avoid conflict.
Although, as business owners, we know that clients are very much capable of being in the wrong. This frustrates me a little. Being the CEO of my own company, I really value my clients and want nothing but the best for them and their business. However, it doesn’t mean I won’t advise them on what I believe is better for them, even if it goes against what they think.
Nor does it mean I’ll allow clients to take advantage of me. For some reason, many business owners and freelancers are scared to say those words. You won’t be able to handle difficult clients successfully if you don’t have a backbone and stand for something.
So, since we’ve established that, here are four ways you can handle these situations:
1. Reassure them that you have their best interest at heart
Sometimes when you’re conducting business, things can get busy and disagreements occur. Simply put, clients become dissatisfied with your offering. When these situations arise, it’s easy for clients to assume that you may not have their best interests at heart. The easiest thing to do is to reassure them that every decision you make, and every piece of advice you give them is only for the achievement of their goals.
Another benefit of doing this is that it builds rapport and strengthens the relationship. This is a good preventive measure for any conflict that may be on the horizon as well as a good tactic to fix any built-up resentment.
“When you help others feel important, you help yourself feel important too.” – David J. Schwartz
2. Create common goals
Creating common goals is another way of de-escalating situations with clients. This is another simple measure to show them that you two are on the same team. For whatever reason, when things get heated and disagreements occur, clients may feel that you two aren’t on the same page.
In fact, you may view it the same way as well if things are starting to go downhill. Setting up a time to speak and create common goals will not only help your client feel more comfortable with your partnership, but it will also help you sleep better at night as well.
3. Apologize, even if you’re in the right
I established that the customer may not always be right, but a good business owner or employee of a company should always take the blame, even when you know that you’re not at fault. Whatever the case may be, always take responsibility.
More importantly, apologize when the time is right. An apology can go a long way. Although there are exceptions where this method can be ineffective, it doesn’t hurt to show that you’re truly thinking about your actions and the situation at hand. Simply apologize and move on.
4. Come up with a solution
This is probably the most effective strategy you can use when handling a stressful client. When there’s a problem, a good business person comes up with a solution. This solution should be tailored towards the cause of the problem at hand. When I encountered problems with clients of my company, WebInsight, I simply scheduled a face-to-face meeting to take the bull by the horns.
This put the fire out right away. Of course, each situation is unique and you must use your best judgment when coming up with a solution. It’s crucial to ensure you get a 360 view of the situation at hand and put yourself in your client shoes for full understanding.
“I attract a crowd, not because I’m an extrovert or I’m over the top or I’m oozing with charisma. It’s because I care.” – Gary Vaynerchuk
Handling clients is stressful, but it’s one of the many blessings that can occur in your company. Why? Well, clients who are upset with your services are basically providing free feedback and pointing out ways that you can improve.
It’s a blessing in disguise if you ask me. When you ever find yourself in a situation with a stressful client (you will because it’s inevitable), follow these 4 tips to repair the relationship and provide value as a business owner.
How have you handled stressful clients? Leave your thoughts below!
Image courtesy if Twenty20.com
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