How to Communicate with Difficult Clients
Medical professionals, restaurant staff, retailers, nail techs. . .anyone who has worked with the public has dealt with at least one difficult customer. They can drain your energy, affect your mood, and ruin the guest experience for others. It’s one of the hardest work-related challenges you’ll encounter, and most of the stress comes from not knowing how to de-escalate.
The key is good, effective communication. Here are a few tips on how to achieve this:
1. Stay calm and empathize.
When a client is unhappy, or even angry, they want to be heard. When you take the time to listen, your client will feel you’re truly concerned about the issue. This will reduce their aggravation so you can offer a reasonable solution.
Take your client to the quietest area of your business, make them comfortable, and listen to the issue. Then, thank them for bringing it to your attention.
2. Mind your body language.
When your client is speaking, maintain eye contact and don't cross your arms. Looking away makes you seem evasive, and crossed arms appear defensive.
3. Be a problem-solver.
Difficult clients don't want to know what your policy states; they want to know how you can solve their problem. Offer them choices as you work through the situation. This will help appease them while you gain understanding of their expectations.
For example, a client who is angry might be loud and disruptive in your guest area. Instead of becoming agitated, ask, "Would you mind if I get someone to cover for me so that you and I can talk about this in detail? It's important to me that I understand the problem." It's hard to stay angry when you believe your “adversary” is trying to make things right.
Then, once you determine how to resolve the issue, explain the steps you’ll take to make things right.
4. Set expectations.
Provide the best experience for each client by setting expectations. While it's not realistic to please everyone all the time, you can control your interactions with your clients and, ultimately, you control your business.
When proper expectations are set up front, the overall guest experience is better. Help your clients understand the culture of your business beforehand, and they should naturally become a part of that culture when they come in for services.
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