If you are lucky this will never happen to you but for many of us, at some point in our careers, we will have to deal with the unthinkable. The ‘out for blood’ client. When I first started my business, it was elation. I enjoyed being my own boss. I savored setting my own rules. I loved my Job. I threw My heart and soul into it full force. I was meticulous and hardworking and felt that everyone loved my work. It was a great feeling!
Then it happened…..I saw her. Jean had been a client for numerous projects and had always been satisfied with my work but today the satisfied client had transformed into an evil, foaming at the mouth, barking, ‘client no more.’
I was dumbfounded. I knew that she had been having money problems and that payment might be an issue and was prepared for that- but not this!
If you are lucky this will never happen to you but for many of us, at some point in our careers, we will have to deal with the unthinkable. The ‘out for blood’ client. If you are involved with the public in any sort of way, it is essential that you have a plan ahead of time for the steps that you will take if and when this happens.
What will you do? How can you possibly recover before more damage is done? Luckily There are steps that you can take to minimize any future problems when this occurs.
No matter your feelings on what has happened- it is imperative that you put that aside and acknowledge that what your customer is feeling is very real. Try to do this face to face, not through another person and avoid it through a computer screen if at all possible. It is important that the client see that you mean to make this right and not only hears it in your voice but through your body language.
2. Call your customer by name.
Calling your client by name is important because it personalizes the situation and acknowledges that you know who they are. They are not just a client. At that moment, they are the most important person in the room and their feelings are all that matters.
3. Change Modes
Get out of defensive mode and step into service mode. It is hard to not take criticism about your work personally but you just have to retrain your thinking with this one. Your number one job here is resolving this situation and you can simply not do this from an emotional place.
A. Never ignore a client. Hoping that the issue will go away rarely works and usually makes the situation worse. What the client needs is acknowledgement of their feelings on the issue, a feeling that you understand and a promise that you will make an effort to resolve it.
B. Let them let you have it. Remain calm and let the client get it all out. Do not cut them off while they are venting their frustrations at how awful of a job you did. Whatever you do, remain professional and kind throughout the entire process. Remember you can only control how you react to their anger and reacting correctly can make all the difference.
5. Show you are really listening
Overreact! Make note of every detail and discuss it with them. Why?
A. So that they are assured that you were listening. Making note of the problem in writing is just the extra step of having the acknowledgement there,on paper, to reassure the client you are willing to work on a solution.
B. So you can be assured you have it right. Sometimes when we are listening, we unintentionally hear things one way when maybe the person speaking to us meant something entirely different. This is especially true if the other person is angry. Make sure that you both are on the same page as far as where the problems are.
6. Remain calm and reassuring.
Take a breath. Anger expects a reaction. Angry customers are trying to elicit a certain response. It is best to catch the customer off guard with kindness, reassurance and service than to feed into the anger and escalate an already sensitive situation.
7. Try to see where they are coming from.
If you are to work in any field where customer service is involved, empathy is important. Pull on your memories, have you ever felt wronged by a business? How did it make you feel? This is a start.
8. Figure out a fix.
A. Get their input on a possible solution. Come to an agreement about it and reassure them that you will work towards it.
B. After you come up with a plan, your work is not done. It is important to not only make an action plan but to follow through.
9. After you follow through- follow up
Check back in with the client to make sure a solution has been reached and that they are satisfied. If not, see if another solution can be reached.
10. Be prepared
Sometimes a solution can not be reached and a customer simply can’t be satisfied. It is a tough thought but it is true, so prepare yourself for this. Even with this- your intentions do matter. Trying to find a solution shows that you do care and that you are willing to make your best effort into making it right. Potential customers will take note of this.
Dealing with unhappy clients will never be pleasant but hopefully with a few of these steps, a resolution can be found much faster. A faster resolution will make both you and your client happy and after all, that is what we all want.