4 tips on how to deal with difficult clients
In a busy office environment, it’s challenging to deal with interruptions to your workflow. Your to-do list is not getting any shorter, and you only have so many hours in the day. It’s important to handle issues that arise with clients because they’re the lifeblood of your business. Taking the wrong approach can turn them off and encourage them to take their business elsewhere.
How you handle client’s situations matters. Your choice of how to communicate reflects on the company’s reputation. The following advice is not just for people working on the front line. It’s for employees working behind the scenes who might answer the phone or occasionally cover the front line. Remember, the best advice is to remain calm and to not take what a client says as a personal attack.
1. Always listen to them first. Even if the client is screaming at you over the phone or in the office, you must allow them to get everything out. Interrupting is just going to make matters worse. Quite frankly, when someone is upset, they aren’t thinking clearly or articulating their thoughts in the most comprehensible manner. It’s more likely that their emotions are getting in the way of expressing their true concerns. Your job is to look past the immediate symptoms of frustration, anger, resentment, fear, or whatever the emotions are and try to identify the problem.
2. Understand the situation. A client’s issue is not always cut-and-dry. Take time to ask questions and get the back-story. What was the first thing that upset the client? How did things get worse from that point? Are there individuals in your company with insights into this client’s problem? Consider jotting down some notes as the conversation unfolds. You want to get the facts straight. Jumping to conclusions or thinking that you understand the client after a couple of minutes could mean that you miss instances in which the client has confused multiple issues. If you can get to the bottom of the situation, you will understand how to sort out every concern. An angry client will not instantly become pacified by what you have to offer in response.
3. Be careful of your language, both verbal and nonverbal. Seventy-five percent of communication involves nonverbal signals, mostly body language, facial expressions, and nuances in your voice. Being open in your communication style means not crossing your legs or your arms, not backing away, and not raising your voice. It also means controlling your facial expressions and using calming breaths in order to slow down your reactions to angry people. If you’re on the phone, a client can hear your emotions without ever seeing your nonverbal language.
4. Focus on the situation and deliver solutions. After you’ve heard the client’s situation, you can clarify what the issues are. The client may not agree with the issues, so answer some questions and meet in the middle. Once you have reached agreement on the issues, and that will not always occur, you can identify which solutions to offer for each concern.
There are three kinds of people in the world who could interrupt your busy day. They matter just as much to your business as your happy clients do. They are going to cross your path both professionally and personally throughout the day, and you cannot plan for their presence. There are people who love to blame, who love to complain, and who are just plain lazy. It’s easier to make their problems your company’s fault than to find the information they need to feel satisfied.
At Black Tulip, we provide many kinds of back-office support. We have effective methods for delivering excellent customer service, and our professionals aren’t afraid to handle difficult clients. For details, please contact us today.