If you’re a business owner, in a board member’s seat or a director/VP of some sort, you may not realize it, but a majority of your job is to manage your clients’ attitudes and behaviors. It’s even more difficult than normal because most of your clients are unhappy or will disagree with you throughout your dealings. Even the best owners or even best consultants will have to manage difficult individuals at some point in their career journey.
It is not uncommon for companies to have troubled clients, which can strain the resources of those companies and impact profitability as well. On the other hand, these clients can motivate you to do your very best. In order to stay positive, you may need to change your processes, products and services. You can get the best results by understanding how to manage difficult clients.
For us, we whole heartily agree that keeping a client happy- that prevention is better than a cure. Here are some tips we’ve put together on how to navigate these waters and how to recover as quickly as possible and avoid problems before they happen or get out of control.
This is easier said than done. It doesn’t matter how difficult of clients you may have, it’s crucial you remain calm at all times. This allows you to be positive and be an example and also strengthen your reputation and relationship with clients. Doing this allows you to better express yourself in a more clear and stern demeanor. This also readjusts your clients to remain calm if you are calm.
LISTEN CLOSELY WITH YOUR CLIENTS
Sometimes just expressing that you’re paying attention to your client’s concerns is enough to calm things down. Listen without becoming defensive to each concern or complaint. Assure them that you understand their problems and want to help them find a solution. The majority of individuals want to be heard and understood. Allow your client to rant without being interrupted to provide that opportunity. You can demonstrate that you’re paying attention by repeating statements back to make sure you understand them, asking follow-up questions, and acknowledging that you’ve heard and understood them.
When presented with a problem, attempt to make finding a solution a top priority. Giving a quick answer confirms the client and develops a clear line of contact right away. You don’t have to assume blame for the situation at this point, but you should inform them you’ll look into it right away. You could schedule a call with them to further explore the problem.
DOCUMENT THE SITUATION
A formal contract at the start of the project might assist minimize misunderstandings later on. They can still happen, which is why it’s crucial to keep track of all interactions with a problematic client. Keep track of all client communications by noting the time, date, and topic of conversation for future reference.
IDENTIFY THE PROBLEM
The next step is to investigate the issue further. For example, a problem may arise as a result of misunderstanding or expectations that are not in line with what your company provides. Speak with account managers and go over all invoices and communication records to figure out what went wrong.
SUGGEST A SOLUTION
Taking responsibility for the problem and offering a solution to correct the problem are steps to be taken when you discover that you or your team were wrong. Similarly, if a client misunderstood or miscommunicated expectations, show them the relevant information, such as the contract provisions. Make sure not to blame them, but instead suggest that there was a miscommunication between them. Provide your customers with an overview of what they can expect from your service going forward and that you’re open to relaunching.
CONSIDER TERMINATING THE CLIENT
It’s okay to break up with clients on good terms if they don’t work out as you’d hoped. In the short-term, you may not be the ideal solution for them, but you may be in the future, so make sure not to burn your bridges. Who knows what opportunities may arise in the future?
REVIEW THE SITUATION
Take the time to figure out why the problem occurred in the first place after it has been resolved. Think about what you can do with other clients to prevent similar problems in the future, if any can be taken to prevent the problem in the future. Your workflow processes may need to be altered, your communication process may need to be improved or your client contracts revised.
All relationships are diverse and you can’t get around that, that is part of the business. There will be many situations where many types of behavior and etc., will arise with clients who are being difficult. This sometimes leads to your team members being emotionally drained and could cause a burnout. This could potentially cause a domino effect and make a high turnover rate. We at MCDA CCG offer coaching sessions on how to deal with these types of clients.
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