We all face problems with difficult customers, regardless of how amazing we are. Not to mention, we will most likely never satisfy them, no matter what we do for them.
Based on your career and job position, the number of customers you will meet may be different, but you will without a doubt meet at least one you cannot stand. Unfortunately, customers that are unhappy with you can affect your business and reputation.
You may toss aside relationships with difficult customer you don’t like to believe that this is not an issue as long as they don’t complain. But, statistics show that, even though only 4% of clients complain to you, 80% of them will tell approximately 10 people about it. This number isn’t drastically high, but no one wants to lose clients.
Even if this hasn’t happened to you, difficult customer does exist. But, what if we told you that you don’t have to kick them to the curb? Instead, you can learn how to deal with them and eventually, even start liking them.
Be Careful with Your Words
Wording can cause tension between you and the customer. You probably have been in such situations where you find the words of the other person unprofessional or too confrontational.
“If your client keeps complaining and cringing when you speak, or is constantly confronting you in writing, try to mirror their terms or discreetly adjust yours to get somewhere in the middle. When you try to be more careful with your words, the other person will notice and automatically try to do the same.” – explains Frank Green, an HR manager at Aussie Writings.
When I was talking to a client of mine, I made this mistake. This is neither uncommon, nor it can be always anticipated, but you can surely notice it by the reaction of the client. In my case, I had a habit of starting sentences with the phrase ‘to be honest‘. When I saw how some clients cringed after this phrase, I learned that this phrase never ends well in business conversations.
Perhaps the customers see this as a sign that I was not honest before. When I noticed this, I started eliminating this phrase from my vocabulary, and used phrases such as ‘In my professional opinion’ or ‘I believe that’.
Ask for Clarification
If your customer keeps unloading on you over and over again, ask them to be specific. If you constantly hear complaints of the kind: ‘you did it again’ or ‘this does not work, either’, it is time to get some details. After all, you never know what the problem is for sure unless you get the specifics. In many cases, you will learn that the customer was not that wrong after all.
Implement the FroMLE Technique
Have you heard of the FroMle Technique?It is the perfect technique to use for annoying people, including difficult customer you cannot stand.
This technique is specifically created to get you through those painful and difficult conversations. The phrase means from my limited experience and is not be said out loud. This is a type of a silent psychological technique that will help you soften the blows from clients for your benefit.
A client of yours says something that is offensive or a bit mean to you. Listen to this statement and just add the FroMLE to the end in your mind. For example, if you are a translator and one of your client keeps saying how translators take money for a job a computer can make, this will probably infuriate you and insult you. Some people simply do not understand the effort a good translator puts into their job. If this happens to you, try to tack on the FroMLE technique of the statement they made in your head.
This will not make the insult any smaller, but it should help soften the blow. And, it could save you a great deal with an important customer you would lose if you burst with anger.
Learn to Acknowledge without Agreeing
You need to acknowledge your customers, but you don’t have to agree with what they say. When a customer keeps adding fuel to the fire, acknowledge what they say and shift the conversation rapidly. In this way, you can avoid ruining your business because of a small communication problem.
Imagine that you are a lawyer. If a client keeps making statements like ‘It is always like this with lawyers’, you can simply acknowledge that by saying ‘I see your point, but let’s focus on what we can do to fix your issue first’. You will certainly not agree with such statements, but acknowledging it can go a long way.
Always Have Documented Proof
Some of those unbearable customers will judge you for things you are not guilty of, or keep pushing you to do something ahead of the agreed deadline. Always have documented proof to show that you are right on track, but do not rub it in their face. When a customer needs a reminder of the actual agreement, kindly remind them by using the documented proof of your conversation.
Offer a Rapid Solution
Did you know that 33% of customers in a research recommended that an ineffective quick response is better than an effective delayed one? When customers find fault in your way of doing business, they expect you to provide a solution to that problem.
Of course, we don’t say that you need to make false promises or offer refunds right away. Simply provide a response and some kind of solution to give the client an impression that you are responsively handling issues. A free revision of content you wrote or a partial refund for a product they are unhappy with can go a long way for maintaining your reputation.
Learn When to Say ‘NO’
Whenever you can, you should try to create a better working relationship with the customers. This will help your business grow and keep your good reputation intact. But, putting up a pushy, unbearable client is sometimes just not worth the trouble.
You don’t always have to tolerate the emotional drain of customers. But, whenever you can, attempt to fix the relationship before you rush into eliminating it altogether.