Everybody has them – those nagging, pushy or just plain annoying clients who:
- demand a ton of attention;
- grate on your last nerve;
- are the toughest to please.
Even when you bend over backwards to meet their expectations, it seems they’re the ones who complain the most.
What can you do?
You could try meditating on a grass mat like this guy, but that probably won’t remedy the situation. So today, I’d like to offer a few practical tips for delivering shareworthy service to three types of challenging customers, while preserving your sanity:
The “Know it All” Client
Have a client who tells you the best ways to recruit? Thinks he knows staffing better than you? When you have to deal with a know-it-all, patience is definitely a virtue. Give him credit for his knowledge, by using phrases like, “What a great idea!” Find ways to boost his ego from time to time. And when you know his ideas won’t work, be careful when suggesting alternatives. “Sweeten” the language you use when you have to make suggestions you know he will oppose.
The “I Don’t Know – Whatever You Think” Client
Work with a customer who is really wishy-washy and can’t be bothered to give you a clear job description? Someone whose expectations continually change, because he really doesn’t know what he wants? To manage these clients best, give them lots of guidance and hand-holding to help them clarify their needs. Provide a list of options, instead of “putting the ball in their court.” Throughout the customer experience, educate, explain and offer alternatives – and then gently push them to make the choices and commitments you need.
What if a demanding client asks you to meet an impossible deadline? To recruit candidates well outside your area of expertise? Certainly, you should always do whatever you reasonably can to create a great customer experience. But to consistently deliver truly shareworthy service – and maintain clients over the long-term – I’d advise you to say “No” to clients when they ask you to do something that: you don’t have the resources for; you don’t have the expertise for; or you can’t attain the capacity for.
Irritation is a two-way street.
We all have customers who annoy us; but frankly, none of us is perfect, either. In fact, we may unknowingly be doing things that annoy our best customers – and undermine our relationships with them. So in my next post, I’m going to turn the tables – and examine the ways in which we might be irritating our clients. Keep an eye out!