If you spend any time at all in business, you will eventually run into at least one difficult client. They might complain that the work takes too long, or the results weren’t what they expected. The client may demand a refund on work they previously approved, or state that products you created for them were not up to par.
A truly difficult client will not only take issue with something done, but will throw a fit about it. It is not unheard of for clients to curse, yell, contact an unseemly amount of times, leave bad reviews (regardless of how well you handle the situation), and the list goes on. While avoiding these situations is next to impossible, the way you handle them says a lot about you as a professional and the company you work for. Next time you deal with a difficult customer, try utilizing these seven tips for keeping your cool.
That adage “fake it until you make it” actually has some basis in science. By smiling while dealing with a difficult client, you can actually trick your brain into being happy. It doesn’t work immediately, of course, but if practiced consistently, there will come a point where you actually don’t feel as stressed when confronted with a difficult client.
Take a Step Away
If you feel like your mouth might betray you or you simply can’t keep your control, make an excuse to step away for just a minute or two. If you’re in person, make an excuse like having to look something up or ask somebody a question. If on the phone, place the unruly client on hold. Don’t be rude. You should only step away for a literal one to two minute period. During this period, practice deep breathing and prepare yourself to finish dealing with the customer’s demands.
Involve the Manager
Can’t seem to make the customer happy, or don’t have all the answers they need? If possible, involve the manager and ask them to assist you in assisting the customer. If you don’t have a manager (such as with freelancers), it’s best to just simply admit to the client you cannot help them. They may be angry, but at least you’ve told the truth about what you can realistically do about the situation.
A client who feels like they are being actively listened to will naturally calm down, because they will feel like their problem is already being solved. It also makes them feel like you care about their problems, and builds trust in you. One easy way to show you are actively listening is to repeat back to the customer what they have said.
For example, if the client says they only received five articles when they paid for six, you could say: “I understand that you only received five articles, but you paid for six. Let me look into this for you, and see if I can figure out the problem.”
Explain Your Solution in Detail
Once you’ve figured out a solution to the issue, or have a game plan on how to figure it out, tell the customer in detail so they know what to expect. Thinking about the situation described above in tip number four, you could tell the client that a sixth article will be written and immediately sent. Or, you might let them know you will be checking with your writer to see what occurred, and then you will be calling that client back immediately.
Apologize, Even If You’re Not Wrong
Even if you’re not in the wrong, clients like to hear apologies. They believe that you’re wrong because otherwise they wouldn’t be complaining or being difficult. Just say that you’re sorry for the inconvenience, and be sincere about it.
Speak In a Calm Voice
Some difficult clients can get really loud. They might yell, scream, or even curse you out. Regardless of how out-of-hand the client is getting, however, speak in a calm voice. Not only does this ensure you’re handling the situation the right way, but it also prevents any further escalation from occurring. If a client is being improperly rude through email, choose your words with care and avoid any terms that might be misconstrued.
These seven tips for keeping your cool with difficult clients can be applied to all aspects of business, from customer service and marketing to sales and management. Although it may seem difficult at first, practicing these seven tips will eventually make them second nature. Before you know it, you will be a professional at dealing with rude or unruly clients.