How To Handle Difficult Clients With Grace

Virtual office, brick and mortar or eBay store – whatever type of business you are operating, difficult clients are a given.  Regardless of your customer service expertise or how trained and experienced your staff is, at some point you will have to deal with unhappy clients. Dealing with problem clients is even more complicated when the client is a top tier customer that is essential to your success. However, it is imperative to note that irrespective of who is in the wrong or what is to blame, the integrity of your virtual business and that of the employee should come first. When dealing with a difficult client, most individuals tend to lose their cool or simply keep postponing dealing with the client, which unfortunately only ends up escalating the problem.

Although there are no guarantees that a specific strategy will make a difficult client smile again, following some specific tips can help you find an amicable solution that will satisfy both parties. Your aim in dealing with problem clients should be to help the business succeed. Both businesses if possible.  Finding an agreeable solution to the customer’s issues and experiences is one of the best ways you can maintain loyalty from the customer and maintain the good reputation you likely worked so hard to build.

How to Deal

The first step in dealing with problem clients is to be in a customer service mindset. Set aside any personal feelings about the situation and first realize that the client is upset and it is your duty to provide a solution. Whether you feel that it is not your fault or the client is unfair in criticism, you should set your mind first to helping the client solve the issue. Once your mind is set, the next step is to listen actively to the client’s grievances. When listening, avoid the temptation to solve the problem immediately or jump to conclusions about what happened. Instead, listen attentively and thoroughly to what the client has to say before going forward.  Good listening skills takes practice.  In this case, it will pay off.

Provide an atmosphere free of interruptions to the conversation. Once the problem has been thoroughly explained, repeat the concerns to make sure that you are solving the correct issue. If there is something that you did not understand, ask questions politely and use the proper dialogue to help ease anger and stress levels. Once you understand the issue, you should be emphatic and apologize for the inconvenience the client has experienced, even when your virtual business is not at fault. Then offer a solution and if the customer accepts your offer, take action and follow-up to make sure that the issue is fully resolved.

The Customer is Not Always Right, but That Might Not Matter

When dealing with a difficult client, it is necessary to remember that customers are not always right, but a disgruntled customer can still wreak havoc. However, some demands are simply unreasonable. While you can go out of your way to try and charm the customer, there could come a point where you simply must terminate any future relationship with that client.  That could mean refunding their money, referring them to another business and possibly, in the worst case, blocking them from all your social media. Speaking of social media, read our post on why you should never ignore bad social media posts.

Stop the Gossip Mill Before It Starts

Even if the customer is in the wrong, don’t repeat the story to anyone outside of a trusted business friend.  Rarely does a story ever get repeated exactly as it was told.  Every time a story is shared a personal slant or tone is added which can drastically sway the facts.  Keep it professional and keep it tight lipped.

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