Problematic clients are varied, to some any inconvenience demands instant attention, while others thrive on making your customer support agents be at the verge of tears. In this article we will give you five easy steps to identify, handle, and ultimately avoid these types of clients. Now, a few difficult clients are common in any business, however, it is up to you to find a turnaround on how to handle them. We want them to become satisfied customers and not morph into the client from a horror movie. Sure, there are common client complaints, which are to be expected throughout since no business is perfect. These complaints range from issues with invoices, late charges, payment processing changes, etc.

Now, no matter how complex your client is, there are steps to managing them, but first here are some tips on how to identify them:

  • They request special treatment, constantly.
  • They talk bad about other service providers and be weary if they do so with similar services as yours. 
  • You can’t reach a consensus, and your terms are not respected.

Now, when handling the challenges presented by a difficult client, here are five ways to approach these types of clients which can lead to proactive results:

  • Seek to understand the issue at hand with genuine curiosity, and validate their concerns. At first, this may seem a little counterintuitive, but frustration usually stems from feelings of not being heard. As humans, we need to feel listened to, and though the opinions present may not be ones that you like, the objective at hand is to be as informed as possible on the client’s journey. At which point did they find themselves with the situation at hand, and how can we turn it around? 
  • Always set partnership rules and terms upfront. Partnerships are all about transparency, setting your business terms and conditions on your website, and disclosing all types of fees that your business runs, along with all the other detail that affect your client. The point is to offer as much clear and concise information about your services or products to refer to when handling an irate customer. The benefit of this is, that when a client comes forward seeking to bypass your rulings and limits, you have all the information unnecessary to back you up. You’ll be left with two choices, you can either renegotiate within your active terms and specify your rules all over again, or let them walk away. Yes, sometimes letting go is best. 
  • Implement a specific client model, sometimes the money they bring is not worth it if all they bring is headaches. Establishing what kinds of clients your business works with best sets the bar on the values tied to your business model, if a client doesn’t match, then they can be declined with ease. The only true challenge of this is being willing to fire clients that evolved past your client model. Tread carefully. 
  • Be purpose-driven in your professionalism, and have a plan in place when facing challenges with clients. If necessary, own up to the mistakes made by the business, and with that, design protocols for issues similar to the ones faced.  Nonetheless, if there is no blame warranted on your end, hold your ground. You always want to listen to your clients, but sometimes they aren’t correct, don’t put your team at risk just to please a dissatisfied client. 
  • Document everything! The advantages of a “paper trail” are plenty, especially when dealing with a difficult client.  You don’t wish to find yourself in a “he said, she said” back and forth. Though misunderstandings happen after partnerships begin, just be at the ready with your documentation. This goes for all types of communication, If you have a video call record it and keep all your emails and other written communication. This will help you to address any misunderstandings in the long run, and speaking truthfully, it will also be helpful if you end up having to take legal action against the client or vice versa. 

With these warning signs broken down, plus the five strategic points to addressing difficult clients, you should feel more at ease. Difficult clients are in every business, the person who decides to keep them or move on from them is you.  Know that a client is just too difficult, unyielding, and inflexible, you can always let them go. However, be smart about this breakup, always approach it with positive regard, and have an honest and nonjudgmental conversation. Let them know how your relationship isn’t functional, or beneficial to either of you, difficult clients have influence after all, and you don’t want to find yourself on the bad end of an impactful review. To be up-to-date with Team by the Minute’s business savvy blogs follow our social media (Facebook and LinkedIn) and visit our page regularly.