How to Handle Difficult Clients?


Clients are the life-blood of every business and they come in all kinds: you have to deal with the good, the bad and the ugly. Your calvary always starts with the difficult customers that are found in every business. Your initial reaction is to get rid of them but common sense will tell you it’s better to keep them if you can. So you are at a dilemma: keep them and lose your cool or get rid of them and lose your profits?

So here are tips from business gurus on how to handle difficult clients without losing your profit and keep your peace of mind.

1. When the situation gets tense, be careful with the words you’re using.
When it comes to calming the situation, skillful use of language is the best option. Consider using only those words, including phrases that could calm the situation and result to an agreeable reconciliation for all parties. Utilize these words and phrases repeatedly at many parts in the entire conversation:

  • I regret that you feel this way, Mr. Smith…
  • For a mutually beneficial solution, may I suggest that…
  • The best thing I can do right now is …
  • Your feedback Mr. Smith is really appreciated, we can work…
  • The office will give you an update call, at your most convenient time…

2. Be specific and learn more.
Ask them specifically on what troubles them, what specific proposals and measurable remedies they have for the problem. Ask them if solving the problem will fix this situation. Giving specifics may be your remedy when dealing with difficult clients.

3. Acknowledge the complaint but do not agree.
Most often when you go along with a client’s complaint, you are encouraging him/her to rant more. Listen to the complaint, acknowledge that it exists and immediately divert the conversation to the resolution and encourage him to propose suggestions.

4. Focus on the end result.
Have your client state what he/she wants you to achieve. Do not run around dealing with petty details for it may be a hindrance working toward the end goal. Don’t waste your time treating the symptoms while ignoring the disease.

5. Document the problem and utilize visuals.
With a visual component tool, you will keep topic s from straying from the discussion. With a whiteboard, write down the client’s complaints to prevent him/her from repeating what was already discussed. Point to the whiteboard and remind them that the problem’s solutions have been discussed and you all have to move on.

6. Understand that there is a real personality conflict.
You might assign another member of your staff to work with the client and ask the client who they’d prefer to handle their account. Make them feel that this is your way to provide them the best customer service.

7. Last recourse.
When all remedies are unsuccessful and the stress and emotional drain are no longer worth the profit, it may be best to cut your losses and move on. You can spend more time working with more productive clients.

Your relationship with a client is a lot like marriages. It combines trust, open communication with legal document resulting to equal benefits although there are good and hard times. But just like a marriage, if the relationship does fail, it is time to walk away.


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