Protecting Yourself Against Difficult Clients
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In a perfect world, there would be no bad clients. Sadly, as you have probably already experienced – this isn’t the case. Difficult clients can make your job tough and can be a drain on your time and resources that could be better spent on your other clients.
It’s inevitable that you will deal with difficult clients, but how you manage them can provide you with some valuable lessons for your business.
The Reality of Difficult Clients
While a difficult client could be the type of person who makes you roll your eyes from time to time, in many cases a tough client will be much more than that. Problem clients complain more, find it hard to make decisions or tells you how to do your job. Other types of difficult client can include those that don’t pay on time, or worse – don’t pay at all.
For you and your employees, problem clients can really be a drain on your energy. The endless phone calls, lengthy email chains and even angry or rude behavior can put you on edge. At their worst, difficult clients could cause stress and sickness and threaten to damage your reputation. It’s important therefore that you learn to tackle tricky clients early on and even learn how to avoid them altogether.
Handling Tricky Clients
The following tips could help you learn to manage difficult clients to develop a better relationship going forward, or at least make the situation easier for you and your employees.
Keep Calm & Carry On
When handling difficult clients, it’s important that keep calm. Getting angry on your part could add to the situation, and won’t resolve anything. If you remain calm and reasonable, you could see your behavior reflected back at you to find some common ground. If you need to vent, do so privately and keep all other contact professional.
Protect Yourself Legally
While you hope it never happens to you, there’s always a chance that you might have to deal with legal action from a disgruntled client. Whether they have grounds for a case or not, it doesn’t hurt to have business lawyers already in place to help you when you need it. It’s important that you draw up clear contracts before you start working with the client, as you’ll always have a point of reference should they have any queries about the service you’re providing or the rate they’re paying for it.
Address Their Concerns
They do say that ‘the customer is always right’, and if you simply listen to their points and try to understand more about what the problem is – you could resolve things quicker. Some clients just want to be listened to, so if you give them your time they might back off a little and let you carry on with your job.
Always Get Everything In Writing
While an angry client might like to pick up the phone, you can protect yourself by always getting everything in writing. After each meeting or phone call, make sure you write up what was discussed and what the actions are to make sure everyone is on the same page. Give them the opportunity to make comments and verify that this is an accurate record of the conversation to help avoid problems over miscommunication.
Don’t Give Them Poor Service
If you’re guilty of providing your client with a poor service or have tried to cut corners in some way, then you must accept responsibility for your actions. Offer them an apology and make sure you work to provide them with the service they ask for. Misunderstanding can happen, and provided you’re doing everything you can to rectify the situation, your client should be understanding.
Try To Improve The Relationship
Good client relationships are good for your business. They can lead to repeat business, good word of mouth and so on. Entertaining your clients is a good way for them to learn more about you and try to make things more friendly so that you can have a better relationship going forward. Impressing your clients with gifts might feel like bribery, but it’s actually a good way to keep them on side.
Insist On Meeting Them Before Starting Work
You can tell a lot about a potential client during a meeting. If you can meet your clients face to face to discuss their plans and iron out any problems early on. During your meeting, you might find that they’re not the right fit for your business, and can save yourself hassle later on.
A bad client might ruin your day, but don’t let them ruin your business. Address problems with a trickly client early on by having the right defenses in place to stop them from making your life a misery.
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