Is the Customer Always Right? Here are Four Tips for Dealing with Bad Clients
It’s the unwritten rule of effective customer service – the customer is always right. But what happens when they’re not? Or on those rare occasions when not only are they terribly misguided but they are rude, unbalanced, slow to pay, disorganised, inconsiderate or impossible to reason with?
Putting up with poor behaviour from your clients can make both you and your team miserable, having a detrimental impact long term. Not only can it reduce productivity and de-motivate, but it can lower the quality of your work, force you to question your judgement and destroy your confidence.
So short of shutting up shop to avoid them how else can poor client behaviour be managed?
Hear Them Out
Exercise some self-control and listen to their concerns, even if they’re not voicing it very well. Really hear what they’re telling you, and count to ten before responding. Let the customer have their say even if what they will say next is entirely predictable. It may be they have been given incorrect information or it could be you have gotten the wrong end of the stick. Either way, let them get what ever is bothering them off their chest and ‘fess up if it is you who is in the wrong.
The offshore call centre staff from Optus, Telstra and Foxtel are experts at this. After listening to your customer have their grizzle, try to imagine how it would feel if you were in their shoes. When communicating either verbally or in writing with your disgruntled client and echo their sense of frustration and tell them that you understand why they feel the way they do. Just nodding and telling them you understand during your customer’s outburst they will feel better understood.
Assume You Have an Audience
If your customer or client is getting increasingly agitated, they will more than likely raise their voice. To help counter this, lower your own voice and pretend that this interaction in taking place in front of a crowd. This will not only help contain emotion but could provide a buffer through which you will be able to offer more considered responses and have the opportunity to order your thoughts more clearly. It should also help dissipate your customer’s anger.
If you feel all avenues have been exhausted, then recognise that it may be in the best interest of all parties to part ways. Make sure you manage the break-up of a bad client relationship carefully, because if this is poorly executed it could impact negatively both on your personal reputation and also that of your business. Often a frank face-to-face discussion and remember honesty is always the best policy, so never lie about your reasons. Try to salvage a working relationship where possible. If you’re unable to fulfil your contract obligations, try referring them to someone else in your industry who might be better able to help them.