Anyone who has ever worked with the public has no doubt had their fair share of run-ins with clients who are less than pleasant. Whether they are exhausting to deal with, can’t ever make up their mind, criticize anything and everything, or just have a negative attitude overall, it can be tempting to just sever the relationship and go your separate ways. However, you may realize that it’s best to keep them on your good side if possible. So how do you continue a relationship with a difficult client while keeping your sanity intact? Read on to find out!
Choose Your Words Carefully
Everyone has their own personal lingo or way of speaking that works for them, so listen carefully to what your client is saying and mirror the terms they are using. This simple tool seriously works to put clients at ease and lets them know you understand their needs.
When a client makes negative broad generalizations, ask them to clarify what their problem really is with specifics examples. That gives you the chance to suggest specific, measurable solutions. Sometimes they simply want to complain about nothing in particular and this tactic can shut that down quickly.
Acknowledge, Don’t Agree
There are times when agreeing with a client may backfire, especially if they are complaining about something. If you can let them know you recognize where they are coming from, then transition into a conversation regarding a resolution, you might find an amicable solution you can both live with.
Pinpoint the Outcome
Always keep the end goal of your client in mind. If you aren’t focusing on what they ultimately want to achieve, you could be wasting your time on insignificant details that won’t even matter in the long run.
Use Visual Cues to Your Advantage
This tool is incredibly useful to bring easily distracted clients back to the topic of conversation when they go astray. Whether you use a notebook or an iPad, you can make notes about any concerns they may have. As you discuss each point, if they bring up what has already been settled, you can simply remind them by pointing to that section of your list that you’ve already resolved the issue and you’re moving on.
Acknowledge a Major Personality Conflict
No doubt, there will be times when you find it seriously impossible to work with a specific client, and that’s ok. You might be better off finding another member of your team to handle the client. You can even put the ball in their court by asking them who they’d prefer working with, and they will see that your biggest concern is to provide them with outstanding service.
Cut Them Loose
If you have done everything you can to reframe the conversation and you feel like you’re still getting nowhere, it may be best to recognize it is time to walk away. You’ll be able to devote your time and energy to clients who are more productive, and as a bonus, one of your competitors may end up with your difficult client. Fortunately, if you use any of the above tactics, they hopefully will help you avoid letting too many customers go.