WAHM: How to Deal with Difficult Clients

When you make the commitment to work at home, you are not only making a commitment to yourself, but also anyone who decides to do business with you. And, occasionally, you will come across a difficult client.

If that happens, take a deep breath and put everything into perspective. While it is important to always stay true to who you are, it's important to realize that you are a business and need to act in a professional manner.

Define Difficult

What you may find difficult, another business professional may find simply diligent. Perhaps they know what they want, down to dotting the i’s and crossing the t’s. The unfortunate truth is that it’s not always the client who is not communicating properly. You may not be asking the right questions.

If the client seems pushy, try to find out why. Many people who will contact you have never worked with anyone working from home before; they may feel the need to micromanage until you've proven them otherwise.

Most importantly, you may be working with people from all over the world. Proper manners and ways of handling business vary from place to place. Don’t jump to conclusions based on your first interaction.

If you're thinking that a client is difficult, try to see the situation from his perspective. How can you make him feel more comfortable? When it comes right down to it, it's your job to make the client happy; not the other way around.

Why Is This Client Difficult?

Usually a difficult client was created by a previous experience. Were you late on a deadline? Did you fail to get your attitude in check before returning an e-mail or a phone call?

Difficult clients aren’t born out of thin air. They are the result of different expectations—either your expectations of their role (or lack thereof) in the process, or their expectations of your role in the process. Make sure each person’s roles and responsibilities are clearly defined before doing business.

If you tell a client you’ll have something done by “this Friday,” and they send you a heated e-mail (thus dubbing them a “difficult client”) at exactly 5pm on Friday, you know why they're being difficult. Swallow your pride and find out how to make things right.

Set A Good Example

The best way to handle a difficult client is simply to set a good example. Stay true to your word and rise to the occasion -- never to the bait.

Sometimes this is rather hard to do over the phone if a client is becoming belligerent. The best thing to do in that scenario is to slow down and smooth out your voice (think of it as lowering one octave closer to a whisper and letting the words drag closer together in a husky, sing-song fashion). This sounds ridiculous, but it has been proven true, and is in fact the way many call centers teach their employees to respond to upset customers. More often than not, the person will slowly begin to mirror your way of speaking.

Also, in setting a good example, be sure to let them know you can tell they are upset. If you caused the problem, let the client know that you truly want to get things back on the right foot.

After all, the best way to deal with a difficult client is not to create one.

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Anonymous's picture

MoneyCone wrote:

Wed, 03/02/2011 - 12:48 Comment #: 1

The best weapon to deal with a difficult client is being extra polite! This always works! (Killing them with kindness!)

Anonymous's picture

Ultimate Guide for How to Work at Home | MomVesting wrote:

Thu, 01/19/2012 - 21:48 Comment #: 2

[...] of clients: how do you work with difficult clients? Join us for a couple different ways to deal with tough clients as a [...]

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