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The Art of Handling Difficult Clients with Grace

The Art of Handling Difficult Clients with Grace

“The customer is always right”- a phrase we have all heard, don’t always agree with, but have to live by in a professional setting. Of course, the customer is not always right, sometimes that couldn’t be further from the truth. Sometimes, we are faced with customers or clients that make our jobs incredibly difficult. Finding a way to deal with those individuals can be frustrating, but it’s necessary.

Below, we teach the art of handling difficult clients with grace, so if you are in need of a quick lesson, stick around.

Keep Your Composure

The number one rule of communicating with difficult clients is remaining calm.

There will be times when a client is upset, not listening to you, and maybe even yelling. It can feel like they are purposely trying to ignore your efforts of reasoning and rile you up.

Don’t let it affect you. Instead, regulate your emotions with slow deep breaths, use non-reactive body language, and use neutral speech. Avoid snarky remarks, eye rolls, and fidgeting.

Learn more about keeping calm and in control here.

Active Listening

Even if you know your client is blatantly wrong and refusing to listen, you should always hear them out. Don’t interrupt them or tell them they are wrong. Instead, listen to what they have to say and take notes.

Ask clarifying questions that help you get to the root of the issue and summarize what they have said to ensure you got it right and that they know you were listening.

During face-to-face interactions, maintain eye contact and use slight nods to show you are engaged. Active listening is brilliant when speaking to difficult clients because the action alone helps calm them down. When someone is upset, they typically just want to be heard, and respecting their words with active listening can change their entire demeanor.

Acknowledge and De-escalate

No matter what caused a client’s frustration, every person’s emotions are valid and it is important to validate them even if you don’t agree.

Start by acknowledging their concerns. The words you choose in this step are where it turns into an art form. Saying things such as “I can see why this is concerning you”, “ I understand your frustration, let’s see what I can do to resolve this issue”, and “I see that you are frustrated, thank you for bringing this to my attention” are all phrases that show empathy and ultimately calm them down.

Once your client has calmed down, you can shift your focus to discussing solutions.

Phrases that help during this stage are “I can offer you a few options, would you be interested in hearing them?” and “Let’s work together to find a solution that benefits the both of us”.

Be Proactive

Once a situation has been resolved, your client may still be wary that similar situations could come up in the future. Using proactive speech can help ease their mind. A few helpful phrases are: “To improve our process, we will be implementing…” and “Moving forward, I propose…”

After all is said and done, it is important to remain proactive and on top of each concern to avoid future frustrations. This can be done by implementing a client relationship management (CRM) system into your daily routine.

A CRM is a system that can do anything from building reports and creating targeted marketing campaigns to building client profiles. A client profile will come in handy when dealing with difficult clients because it offers access to previous interactions, client preferences, payment history, and more. Being proactive is a cinch with CRM since you can review all client details (including previous issues) in just a few clicks. This allows you to work on issues before they come up again and have full knowledge of previous attempts during your next interaction. Learn more about CRM systems at Accelo.

Follow Up

Following up with your clients is a great way to go the extra mile and really show that you care about your partnership and their concerns.

You can follow up with a simple email or phone call and let them know you are checking in to see if they are satisfied or have any other concerns. Ask questions such as: “ I wanted to check in to see how you are feeling after our recent discussion” and “Your partnership and satisfaction are important to us, and I would like to ensure that our resolution has fully addressed your concerns”.

The timing of your follow-up interaction varies depending on each client and situation. More urgent concerns should be followed up on within a day or two, while others can be followed up on at about the one-week mark. Of course, these time frames can vary, so use your best judgment when scheduling the call.