Customer Service 101: How to Handle Your Difficult Clients

Customer Service 101: How to Handle Your Difficult Clients

While every company aims to leave a positive impression on their clients, there are occasions where you will have a run-in with a difficult client with seemingly lofty expectations. In such cases, it might be tempting for you to turn these customers away rather than spend the effort to establish a working relationship.

However, it might actually be in your company’s best interest to set up a system in place and equip employees with the ability to respond promptly and efficiently to these clients’ concerns, especially if you wish to maintain your company’s reputation. Moreover, if you are successful in dealing with such clients, it leaves them with a positive impression of your business, potentially leading to more sales further down the line.

Interestingly, according to a survey finding conducted across nine countries (Canada, Hong Kong, India, Italy, Japan, Mexico, Singapore, the United Kingdom, and the United States) by American Express, Singaporeans are the most demanding customers among the participating nations, with 33% of them considering a switch in service provider immediately after encountering poor customer service.

Furthermore, Singaporeans are more likely to inform others – on average, around 24 people – about their negative experiences through online reviews or word-of-mouth feedback. However, they are also more willing to spend a significant sum if they encounter a company that provides excellent customer service.

As the survey results demonstrate, it is vital for entrepreneurs to invest in providing excellent customer service, even to clients who possess greater demands.

Is the customer always right?

One of the most famous adages bandied about in the service industry is “The customer is always right.” But that is not always the case. Unfortunately, there are times where you and your team will encounter a particularly nasty client. When such incidents occur, it is vital for you and your employees to adopt the 3 P’s – pleasant, patience, and professionalism – to diffuse the situation.

With the right management, you can de-escalate the situation, leaving both parties satisfied with the outcome. However, any mismanagement could potentially spiral into negative feedbacks about your products and services. If the customers were to take their ire online, it might cause significant damage to your business’s reputation.

If you ever find yourself dealing with a challenging client, let us share what your team can do to avoid a potential public relations disaster from occurring.

Tip #1: Manage client expectations

Sometimes, in your eagerness to close a business deal, you might find yourself promising the moon to establish a working relationship with the client. However, this might have an adverse impact on the partnership further down the line. When they discover you cannot deliver on what you promised, you will find the relationship quickly deteriorating.

It is more important for you to manage your client’s expectations and let them know what your team can deliver. Both parties need to be on the same page about the exact deliverables and approximate timeframes required to accomplish the stated goals. If possible, put everything into a written contract to set clear expectations and partnership parameters.

Additionally, constant communication is key so that your client knows what to expect. Ensure the information provided is concise and straightforward to avoid any misunderstandings. If the client is unrealistic with their expectations, let them know firmly but politely that what they are requesting is unfeasible and propose a more realistic timeframe to submit the necessary deliverables.

Tip #2: Always be professional

When faced with angry clients, it is tempting to brush them off as demanding customers. However, it is essential to be professional and give them the benefit of the doubt. They might have the right to be frustrated once you know the whole story.

It is advisable to listen actively to what your client has to say and take a moment to understand where their frustrations are coming from. Always try to remain calm and approach the situation with genuine curiosity while treating their concerns seriously.

The tone and words you choose also play a crucial role in de-escalating the situation. Verbal affirmations like “I see your point” and “Thank you for bringing this issue up” will go a long way towards calming them down. You can demonstrate that you hear and understand them by repeating their statements, summarising their points, and asking follow-up questions.

If you realise you or your employee is in the wrong, and the client has a reason to be upset, acknowledge the mistake, and apologise. It is essential to make clients feel that they are being taken seriously and that you will work towards finding a solution to their issues.

Tip #3: Always be accountable

Whether the issue stems from the customer’s negligence or a mistake from you or your employee, you should avoid pointing fingers at whom to blame. When you and your team demonstrate accountability when dealing with a customer’s problem, it leaves a positive impression on them, ensuring you retain the client’s business.

Conversely, when clients notice your employees are distancing themselves from the issue, even if it is not the company’s fault, they will think your workers are ineffective, leading to bigger frustrations with your company.

Therefore, it is crucial for you to instil accountability in your employees. Even if the problem requires the approval of a higher authority, your employees should be advised to inform the clients that they will see to it that the matter is attended to.

One last thing to note

As you and your team endeavour to leave a positive impression on all your clients, it is also crucial for you not to neglect your business’s financial health. Without proper financial management, you will lack the resources to hire competent employees and provide them with the necessary training to handle difficult customers.

If you find yourself overwhelmed with the daily operations of your company, you may want to consider outsourcing your accounting needs to a specialised firm. At Ackenting Group, we provide a suite of professional accounting services to meet a wide variety of business needs. Our experienced accountants have handled clients from multiple industries, so you can rest easy knowing your company financial records are in safe hands.

Conclusion

As a service provider, it is your responsibility to take the lead in addressing any client concerns, even if the customer is demanding. While difficult clients can drain additional resources, any mismanagement on your company’s part might have disastrous consequences for your brand reputation should the customer choose to vent their ire online.

Therefore, it is imperative for you to listen to what your clients have to say and see how you can address their concerns. You might even find that they have valid points to share, which can help you to improve your company’s products and services.

If you require any assistance on accounting services, feel free to drop us an email at johnwoo@ag-singapore.com or contact us at +65-66358767. At Ackenting Group, we offer a complimentary 30 minutes online consultation for us to better understand your business requirements.

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