Management Matters

9 Steps in Handling a Rude Client

Date Posted: 07/20/2017

Most clients are polite and thoughtful and realize that even though they are paying you for the service you provide, it’s a 2 way street and they need your service, otherwise, they would not be using you. However, there are some clients who feel because they are paying you, they can be disrespectful or rude. At other times, a client is entitled to get angry if things go wrong at your end. You’re in business to serve your clients and it is up to you to deal with them angry or not. So how do you effectively deal with a rude or angry client?

1. Stay Calm. Take a deep breath and if the client says something disrespectful, don’t take it personally. If they are rude, it is not about you, it is because the situation has annoyed them. If you, in turn, raise your temper, it will just make the client more agitated and will escalate the situation. If you are respectful and stay cool, it will most likely calm the client down to some extent.

2. Listen Carefully and try to put yourself in her shoes. Maybe the client is having personal problems and needs to take it out to someone. Maybe her boss screams at her so she is screaming at you. The best thing to do is to acknowledge her feelings and tell her you completely understand why she is upset. Connecting and feeling your clients’ annoyance will instantly help them feel better and show them you are there to help.

3. Repeat the Problem. By repeating the problem to your clients you show them that you have been listening and that you understand the problem. Also, ask a number of questions to make sure you have no doubt about what they are telling you. Doing this in a calm manner will go a long way to helping them understand that you know what the issues are and also help clarify any misunderstanding that may exist. Sometimes clients do not initially express the full extent of the problem – only the part that makes them most angry.

4. Get to the Root of the Matter. Write down notes while the client is screaming at you so you can direct the conversation towards providing solutions. Ignore insults and tackle the issue at hand.

5. Apologize. Whether the clients’ concern is legitimate or not, you have to sincerely apologize. Show them that you are really sorry about the problem they are having. Make it a simple and straightforward statement. If you are apologizing by e-mail, make sure you don’t try to justify yourself.

6. Offer a Solution. If you know the problem and have a solution, offer it to the client. If you need to check things out before you can solve the problem, tell them that you will get back to them in an hour or two at the most so at least it gives you time to see how the problem can be fixed. If you leave your clients hanging or dissatisfied by not doing much about the problem, you can be sure they are not going to be your clients for very much longer.

7. Give Incentive/Compensation. In the even there is no solution, offer a compromise or compensation to make sure your clients do not remain angry. To further appease your clients, you can also offer a token that they will appreciate receiving. This shows yours and your company’s goodwill and calms the situation.

8. Never Resort to a War of Words. Throwing insults at each other will never result in a solution and only escalate the problems further.

9. Follow Up. Finally follow up with the client. Once the problem has been fixed, follow up to make sure that your client is happy with the solution or the compensation. In the event that you think the client is a habitual complainer and may complain again if you call him/her, you can even send him/her a handwritten note of apology. Sometimes this extra little act of following up makes a client feel valued and heard.

After the situation has been resolved, it’s helpful for you to take a little “time out” from the stressful experience. Rather than let that stress linger inside you, take a short walk, treat yourself to a snack or find someone who makes you laugh. Then you’ll be ready once again to engage with your clients.

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