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Dealing with the Devil: How to Tame Difficult Clients

Clients can be a source of delight and sorrow for the business owner. One thing is obvious; they are completely vital to the success of any business. Dealing with difficult clients comes with this territory, but it may be easier than you think. It always comes down to identifying client needs, and then fulfilling those needs. Here’s how to do just that.

1. Listen and Repeat

We have all heard the famous saying that the customer is always right. While this might not always be true, there is something to gain from the idea. A dissatisfied client is usually upset because they feel they are not being heard. In some instances this is due to the typical indifferent customer service agent who is simply reading a script and keeping one eye on the clock. This is understandably upsetting to any client. It is important to train your people to listen carefully, and then repeat the concerns back as you have heard them. This immediately proves to the client that they are being heard.

Most businesses would be surprised at the difference this practice makes. Although it can be exhausting, doing this is important to the success of a business. According to American Survey Express, 78% of consumers have abandoned a transaction or not made an intended purchase because of a poor service experience. When you do the math, taking the time out to listen ends up being less expensive than the clientele lost due to bad service.

2. Offer Sincere Apology

Apologizing is very difficult to do, especially when you feel no direct responsibility. For the sake of the business and client, this is something that needs to happen daily; perhaps even hourly, depending on your market. An apology can act as a soothing balm to an irate client. No matter what the issue, some clients appearing to be very angry can be calmed down by a sincere apology. It is obvious that a resolution must follow, but an honest apology comes first.

It is important to realize, however, that if a business is known to offer empty apologies to try and sedate customers, those efforts quickly become futile. Clients are very smart and will see right through this. An insincere apology runs the risk of further aggravating a difficult customer. Lee Resources shows that 91% of unhappy customers will not do business with you again. Dealing with each customer like they count is paramount to maintaining good business.

3. Answer the Question

According to consumers, customer service agents failed to answer their questions 50% of the time. There is no explanation needed as to why this is unacceptable. Most clients would rather wait for a correct answer than not receive one at all. Some customer service representatives knowingly offer the wrong answer to a client because they are afraid to appear incompetent. This often results in the client getting very angry the next time when they are told the information they received and acted on was completely wrong.

It is advisable to take the time to answer each question correctly in order to have a satisfied customer. An Understanding Customers survey shows that it takes 12 positive experiences to make up for one negative one.

Customer service is one of the most difficult things to provide, but when done correctly it results in success. This is because most businesses deal with people at some point. Crafty marketing ideas are beneficial, but good customer service is a necessity. In a survey conducted by McKinsey, results show that 70% of buying experiences are based on how the customer feels they are being treated. It is not always about the product.

Maya Angelou stated it clearly; “I’ve learned that people will forget what you said, people will forget what you did, but people will never forget how you made them feel”. Finding out what they need directly from the client empowers the business. Instead of blindly providing service, surveying the client enables them to address issues that the client is concerned about. This creates a lasting relationship between the business and client.

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