Is the Customer Always Right? A Way to Deal with Clients Who Need a Little More Management
I remember when I started working at 15 years old, my managers would always say “the customer is always right.” This never made sense to me because that is not true. If a customer has an irrational request or is blatantly rude to an employee, then how can this be? Shouldn’t a company’s leadership also have a responsibility to protect their employees? This is something that I have always struggled with because it shouldn’t be that we allow clients to misbehave and mistreat consultants, freelancers, contractors, etc. As someone once said to me, you teach people the way you should be treated. I feel this also applies in the workplace. If you allow clients to continue their bad behavior, they are going to think it is fine to do this.
The way you handled situations in your personal life is usually different than how you would in your business one. Therefore, even if a client is becoming a bit much, you need to keep it professional. However, that doesn’t mean you let them do what they want.
This is how I handle client relationship issues without losing that client or making my team feel as though they are not being heard and protected.
- Have an honest discussion with the client on the issue(s) – I love working from home, but when you need to have a more serious type of conversation with anyone at work, then it is usually when I say try to have it in person if possible. Smile before going in there because that does help improve your demeanor. Listen to what the client is having an issue with. Really listen. Don’t start thinking about your to-do list or how much you don’t agree with what he is or she is saying. Listening is a great tool that will help you in resolving any conflicts. After he or she is finished, repeat back to them what you heard. I learned this a few years ago. It sometimes helps reduce misunderstandings because the other person can clarify any points that he/she made. You can then let him/her where your team and you are coming from and find a way to come up with a solution that works for everyone involved. This is usually helpful and will help the client relationship, as well as team morale.
- Consistently check in with the client – Some clients are more difficult than others, but you have to check in with all of them regardless of how you feel about them. This will help you proactively resolve anything that is bubbling to the surface before it gets bad and/or team even finds out about it. Remember, you are in a leadership position so it’s your job to make sure that everyone on the team, and that includes the stakeholders, are happy.
- Offer your assistance to the client – Killing them with kindness will more than likely work. Therefore, ask the client if there is anything that you can do to make his/her job easier. Majority of people appreciate that whether it be on a personal or business level. The client will usually soften because he/she sees that you are working to help them.
This has usually helped. However, it’s not 100% as many of you know. In those times, you really have to do some in-depth thinking if there is a need to maintain this client. In the end, your mental health is more important. If the client is exceptionally toxic, it might be time to part ways and find clients who will not make your team or you dread coming into work.