New and Difficult Clients?: Here’s How to Change Your Management Strategy
When you run a business, it’s a given that you’ll be dealing with different kinds of clients – that includes the difficult ones. They might have unrealistic expectations or their personality doesn’t match your company. As challenging as they may be, difficult clients can be a great source of learning. If you are faced with a new and difficult client, here’s how management should deal with it:
1. Keep Calm
You have an angry client making a scene in your office. The last thing you want to do is react the same way. You’ll be tempted to do so but it won’t solve the problem. Stay calm and focus on finding a solution.
Acknowledge their position but don’t be so quick to agree. Sometimes, agreeing for the sake of avoiding conflict will only make them madder. Work towards an end goal while keeping your cool. They are likely to mirror your emotional response and tone it down with the emotions.
2. Figure out the Root Cause
A client often becomes difficult because the service did not match their expectations. Find out exactly why this happened.
Discuss the issue with people involved in the project and get to the root cause of the problem. This ensures the mistake doesn’t happen again and you won’t have to deal with the same problem with future clients.
3. Actively Listen
When dealing with a difficult client, you also need to actually listen to what they say. They probably have a valid reason for feeling upset. Maybe they feel disappointed by the results or communication was not up to par.
Whatever it may be, you need to really digest what they’re saying. Doing so helps you get to a solution faster, and it might even help improve your service! If you run an Advertising company, you may find that having Account-Based Marketing creates an experience that’s unique to each client.
4. Agree on a Solution
After you have figured out what the problem is, now is the time to brainstorm for solutions. Propose a specific plan of action. If they propose something entirely different from what you can deliver, listen anyway and provide alternatives. You want to find a common ground where both of you will feel satisfied.
Once you reach a compromise, have a concrete plan in writing and send a summary to the client. Include specifics such as detailed steps and timeframes. This is so they can’t change their mind later and dispute it.
5. Keep Communication Lines Open
You should be doing your best to communicate promptly with the client. This means scheduling regular phone calls, keeping them updated on deadlines and changes, responding to emails promptly, etc. You want to cover all your bases in terms of communication.
6. Establish Standards Early On
The moment you have a client on board, they should be briefed on your way of doing business. Sometimes, a client becomes difficult because you did not set boundaries in the first place. They might call you in the middle of the night over something minor or ask impossible demands.
Make it clear to them what they can expect from you and deliver on that promise. Don’t pitch results you can’t guarantee. If you can’t deliver, you end up with an unhappy, difficult client.
How to Avoid Difficult Client:
New business is good business but sometimes, it’s not worth pursuing especially if you have to deal with a difficult client. Here are some signs that they might become one in the future:
- They have unrealistic deadlines.
- They don’t respond consistently.
- They’re disorganized.
- They question your price, ask for discounts, and are reluctant to pay a deposit.
- They have vague requirements or tell you this project is easy and simple.
- They tell you that they fired the previous business they worked with.
- There’s an obvious personality mismatch.
- Your gut tells you they’re a difficult client.