7 Strategies for Dealing with Difficult Clients Without Risking a Negative Review

There will always be difficult clients in the world of business, no matter what field you’re in. Fortunately, you aren’t the first to encounter them. Before you can properly deal with a difficult client or situation, you’ve got to take the time to identify the client and exactly how they are difficult for your business. Whether it’s someone dissatisfied with their service (and completely unfounded in being so) or a client that is nagging you 24/7 to take care of their every need as if you’re their personal assistant, identifying the problem will help you find the best solution. 

In this guide, we will look at seven strategies that can help you with challenging clients in various situations. In addition to providing tips and insight on dealing with these clients, we’ll also explore which strategies are best for which types of clients. 

1. Stay calm in all situations 

Very rarely does someone calm down after being told to do so, but we promise this is a critical step in dealing with any kind of difficult client. If you let them get under your skin, you’re eventually going to lose your cool. That can jeopardize your reputation and your entire business. It takes some practice, but when someone comes to you in a heated manner, you need to first take a deep breath and assess the situation. 

Once you’re calm, you can try to help them provide you with insight in a calmer way than by screaming about the terrible service they received or the “hidden charge” on their bill that they should have known about—it doesn’t matter what they’re upset about. You have to be on their side from the beginning and gain their trust. 

2. Take it personally, but not to your detriment 

You shouldn’t take the difficult clients’ actions personally in the way that you should feel bad about them. However, you should take your demeanor and the way you resolve the situation personally. When you are focused on resolving the issues, you’ll find much more success in doing so. Don’t be offended or feel at fault for anything, but make it your personal commitment to rectify the situation however you can. 

3. Listen to understand, not to respond 

One of the biggest problems we have as compassionate humans is that we want to help others. We want to solve problems and offer solutions and make sure that we say the exact right thing to the person at the right time. As such, we get caught up in listening only to develop our response. Instead of just digesting their words and letting the conversation flow, we’re anxiously waiting to speak again and offer assistance. You need to untrain yourself and re-learn how to listen to your clients so that you’re ready to understand their complaints or issues. 

4. Figure out what went wrong and offer solutions 

Now that you’re ready to listen, and not just hear the words, you can start to piece together what went wrong. Sometimes, the situation will be obvious. In other cases, it might be something that you aren’t even aware of or don’t know could even be an issue—there is a lot of potential out there in the business world. Make sure that you clearly identify what went wrong and work carefully on creating solutions for those problems to rectify the situation and save the relationship. 

5. Attempt to resolve all negative feelings and concerns 

You also don’t want people to walk away with a bad taste in their mouths. Even if you think that you solved their problem, make sure that you have a real discussion with them about their concerns and needs. This will ensure that you have addressed everything and can assure that you’ll have their business in the future. And if you haven’t, you’ll be given a second opportunity to provide your clients with the solutions they demand. 

6. Review and be clearer in the future

Although you want to avoid these situations when you can, you should take the time to learn from them when they do arise. Then, you’ll be able to see what went wrong, what went right, and what you can do better next time. With any luck, you at least resolved the current situation without a negative review, but if not, you’ll be ready for whatever comes your way in the future. 

There will always be difficult clients in all shapes and sizes. Most will eventually compromise or feel like they have been properly accommodated. However, there are always those few that ruin it for everyone by being ready to complain and start a riot at the sight of the smallest misstep. This way, you can reduce the likelihood of running into them in the future. 

7. Cut your losses 

Although this is not the first strategy you should try, it might end up being the right one. If you’ve done everything else in your power to resolve the issue or satisfy the client to no avail, it might just be time to cut your losses. A negative client is cutting into your profit margins and consistently putting your reputation on trial—it’s not worth it to keep fighting a losing battle. Do everything that you feel you can and if the situation is still not resolved, just cut your losses and go find some new clients that are more agreeable. 

Worry less about client relationships when you let Smith.ai do the talking

While you’re busy building relationships and your business, do you have someone taking care of incoming leads and other needs 24 hours a day, seven days a week? When you partner with the virtual receptionists at Smith.ai, you will, and you’ll also get solutions for appointment scheduling, lead intake, and other services with a custom strategy to suit your needs. 

Ask about our outreach campaigns, too, if you’re working on marketing and need a hand. Schedule a consultation to learn more or send a message to hello@smith.ai

Elizabeth Lockwood

Elizabeth Lockwood is the content marketing associate at Smith.ai. She focuses specifically on writing and editing engaging articles, blog posts, and other forms of publication.

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