Many of us occasionally have to work with difficult clients. Sometimes it is not so occasionally. What do we do? Run away and lose business or face it and learn how to deal like professionals.
First we have to agree that its impossible to please everybody regardless of how good you may be or how many awards you may have won. However, if we know what to say and, more importantly, how to say it, we may be able to save some situations. In fact, we can even end up in a better relationship with our client than we had before, and that is where the art of communication comes in, part of our expertise as PR professionals.
Some important tips on how to deal with difficult clients:
– You do not have to always agree with the client, or say yes to everything. We are not executives, we are the professional consultants. You need to advise your client and be honest when he is making the wrong decision, but be tactical in how you say it.
– Be well prepared; know exactly what you are working on, so when you are asked, you have the right answer. That’s when the client knows that you are not missing anything.
– Make sure you listen actively to problems or complaints, and resist the urge to interrupt or solve the problem right away. Be empathic and understanding, and make sure that your body language communicates this.
– When you feel a problem coming on, try to find a solution before it happens or at least discuss it with the client.
– Put everything in writing. Misunderstandings will happen and expectations will not always be met. In dealing with anybody, put everything down in writing. This will save you a lot of money and heartache.
– Be sincere and caring all the time and not just when you’re in the public eye. People can tell when someone is truly honest and caring. If problems do arise from your clients, people will always side with the honest and sincere person.
– Talk to your client, explain to the person what the problem is and ask him or her for some suggestions on solving the problem. Sometimes, your clients might not realise what they are doing. Ask them how they prefer to take things forward.
Sometimes the client is right, always look at your current problem through their eyes. You might be surprised at what you see. In addition, seek professional advice, because dealing with difficult customers can be challenging. In the end, if you handle the situation well, you may even be able to improve your relationship, and create further opportunities.
How do you deal with difficult clients?