How to Manage Difficult Clients

When you run a small business, you often feel like you should be grateful for every client you can get. However, most of us have experienced at least one client who is difficult, to say the least! They may be providing your business with money, which is always welcome, but dealing with them can feel like your very own personal nightmare.

If this sounds all too familiar, here are a few things that may help you deal better with those difficult clients:

Document everything

When it comes to dealing with difficult clients, it is really important that you document everything you can. Every interaction with them should be fully recorded and stored by you so that whenever they have a complaint or try to argue the toss with you, you can produce the evidence you need to diffuse the situation. These days, you have software packages like this industry-leading hospital contract management software that will track what clients owe you, amongst other things, and easy access to email “paper” trails so this should not be as taxing as it might sound and it will help immensely!

Be careful what you say

Difficult clients need to be tip-toed around somewhat in terms of the language you use. All it takes is for you to use a word that they deem too harsh and they can quickly get annoyed,  or for example, if you say you’ll deal with their problem in a second, and you don’t in fact start looking into it until 5 or 10 minutes later, they can use that against you so be sure to always pick your words very carefully when dealing with them.

Deal with them via email

Okay, so this may not always be possible, but if you can deal with your difficult business clients via email rather than over the phone or in person, you should absolutely aim to do that because things are far less likely to get heated that way. When you get an angry or unreasonable email from them, you can take your time to calm down and draft a rational, yet firm response - it’s not always so easy to do that when you have them right in front of you/on the line.

Acknowledge without agreeing

When a difficult client has issues with you, it’s important that you acknowledge what they are telling you and how they feel about it, but if you don’t think what they are saying is accurate, never agree! It can be tempting to just agree with them to get it over and done with, but then you will have to put the non-existent problem right at your own time and expense. By letting them know you hear them and coming up with a resolution you can both agree on instead of simply capitulating, you are less likely to get a complaint, less likely to have to do a song and dance to put things right, and more likely to leave the office happy at the end of the day.

Difficult clients will pop up from time to time. You can't always eliminate them, but you don't have to do looking for them either. These tips give you a bit of a business strategy for dealing with them when you're not ready to fire them


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