The customer is always right, right? Wrong! But they don’t want to hear that. That doesn’t mean that you let them fail – that’s not good for them and it’s not good for you either. So what do you do? I’ve been working with clients for most of my career whether they were internal or external and I’ve got some surefire tips for how to deal with a tricky situation.
Being right is not important
They don’t need to know that they are wrong or that you are right. So don’t bring it up, instead deal with the realities of the current situation; this is where we are and this is what I can do to help now. If they want to trawl the history of who said or did what, all you can do is tell them that you understand their concerns (even if you don’t share their point of view) and that you’re sorry they’re not happy. That’s always true – you’d much rather they were happy!
Deal with facts
Keep track of conversation by always getting things in writing, if you can. Sign off of project a brief is a key one – that way you know what you’re delivering and they know that too.
Don’t blame other people – no one likes that, and don’t be creative with you version of events. It will always come back to bite you in the bum.
Do focus on the next steps and a resolution. Always try to look forward and be positive and helpful.
Give it some space
If things are very tricky its sometimes best to take a breather. The customer would probably like that too and it gives you both time to think. Chances are things will be a lot easier then everyone has cooled down.
Always remain professional and try to see it from their perspective
Don’t lose your cool. I know it’s hard but you are a professional and your business reputation relies on that.
Try to see it from their point of view. Why are they upset? More than anything it could be that they are married to their business and so they’re taking it more personally than perhaps they should. Why are you upset? Possibly the same reason? Perhaps try to share your common commitment to your businesses and find a way through.
Look ahead and give options
‘I’d love to resolve this issue and here’s how I’m going to do it’. That’s much better than ‘what do you want me to do?’. Make a suggestion, show willing and be supportive. Some of my longest customer relationships have stood the test of upset and miscommunication (often the main culprit of issues in business) and we’ve learned how to work together and avoid these kinds of issues.
Learn from your mistakes
I’m sure you never want to be in that situation again, right? So what are you going to do to prevent a repeat? Communication, as I mentioned above, is a common area where things can go wrong. Get things in writing. Double-check. Ask for commitment. Are there some tools you could use to help communicate with your clients?
Good luck! Remember clients are hard to get so if you can keep one and keep them happy that’s not only rewarding but also great for your bottom line!