Though client relationship challenges are a universal workplace issue, staff are often not trained on how to handle these situations properly, leaving them feeling unprepared and uncomfortable. Of course, there is no “one size fits all” response when working with a difficult or demanding client, but there are some things both employees and managers can do to help keep their cool and turn the situation around when things become negative.
Most clients are pleasant to work with, but there can be those who seem to need extra assistance and attention, constantly want to speak in great detail about their project, frequently change their mind, and so on. It’s important to remember that they are not doing these things to annoy you, this is just how they operate. Here are a few things you can try to help you and your client both understand each other’s work styles and create a solid relationship:
- Take the time to speak with them, but set boundaries
Most employees have more than one client, so it’s not realistic that they will be available to one specific client all the time, and each client’s project deserves attention and steady progress. If a client is constantly calling and it’s difficult to get work down, try letting them know you will be available at a certain time to speak with them more. You could say something like “ I would love to speak with you about this further, can I give you a call back around 4:00 pm?” in this way, you acknowledge that they need your undivided attention while ensuring you also have time to work on your other tasks.
- Try not to be defensive
If a client is upset with you or your work, try your best not to take their remarks personally, and instead work on finding a solution that will make both parties happy. For example, if you design a logo for someone and they say they hate it, rather than becoming upset, get a better understanding of exactly what they don’t like about it and what they would like. This will help you get it right the second time and make you both happy with the results.
- Know when to ask for help
If a client is verbally abusive or aggressive towards you and it makes you uncomfortable, don’t be afraid to speak with your supervisor. They may have tips for how to work better with this specific client, or may even take over the situation and speak with them directly.
As an employer or supervisor, your goal is likely to keep both clients and employees happy. In situations where clients become upset, things can get out of hand rather quickly, and if employees are not trained properly, the situation could have very negative consequences. As such, teaching your employees how to communicate effectively with clients during all kinds of potential situations can go a long way to maintaining your culture.
When a new employee begins, it’s often best they work directly with their supervisor rather than being trained by another employee. This ensures that they learn how to do things the right way from the beginning, and can get an idea of how clients are treated and communicated with at the company.
- Monitor, but don’t micromanage
Checking in every once in awhile to ensure your employees are working with clients in a way that accurately represents your company standards can be very beneficial, just make sure you don’t overdo it! Staff may become frustrated and feel like you don’t trust them if you are constantly looking over their shoulder to see what they’re doing.
- Step in when needed
Employee respect in the workplace is absolutely crucial, and this includes the way clients treat your employees. If they are being disrespectful, belittling, etc., it’s likely best you step in and work with the client to determine if you would like to continue your relationship with them. Putting your employees first is incredibly important to producing quality work and keeping great staff, who in turn take care of your clients.
The better prepared someone is, the more confident they will feel when a situation arises. Whether you’re an employee or employer, communication and training are keystones of all aspects of a job, including working with clients. If your employer doesn’t currently offer this type of support, you may consider seeking it by mentioning an issue you have and asking them for advice on how to handle it.