All small business owners have had experiences with difficult clients. It’s a fact of life when you run your own company. Whether these clients are slow with payments, criticize your work, or simply give you a headache, it’s important to know how to deal with them. This is especially true when you’re just starting out. So what are some things you can do to keep these difficult but important clients happy, while also keeping your own sanity? Read on to find out.
It’s important for customers to know that you two are on the same page. The only way to achieve that is through honest communication. Let’s say you and your client are having a conversation about when you can deliver another shipment of products. If your customer is using words like “guarantee” and you’re responding with words like “probably” when discussing a shipping date, it could make him or her uncomfortable. Clearly, what the customer is looking for is an exact date, but you’re being wishy-washy about when you can make the shipment. It’s best to be honest and say that you’re not sure about an exact date yet, but will keep the client updated. Communication is key to keeping the peace.
When a client is having problems with something about your business, acknowledge that he or she feels this way and that you understand the situation. But be sure to shift the discussion to finding some kind of resolution that will keep both you and the client happy. Try to bring the customer away from the ranting and focus on coming up with a resolution. Also, if you disagree with something your client says, you don’t have to pretend to agree. Acknowledge, but don’t agree with them if you believe the client is in the wrong.
3. Set Expectations
When communicating with your client, be very clear ahead of time about what outcomes the client can expect from your small business. Make sure the client is very clear about what he or she is receiving from your small business, so that there are no surprises at the end. You don’t want to enter into a partnership with this client, only to have the client get upset that the end result was not what they expected.
4. Walk Away
For many small businesses, a small fraction of the clients are causing a large majority of the headaches. If this is the case, and your business can still survive without these clients, you may have to fire them. If things have gotten to the point that the emotional drain just makes this client not worth keeping around anymore, you need to go your separate ways. This should of course be a last resort, but don’t discount the option.