Wednesday, June 08, 2011

Client Service, and Angry Clients

One of my favorite comments to share with business audiences is simply this: "Without a client, you don't have a business."  Think about it for a moment - where would we be without clients, customers, shoppers, members? Yet, how often do we fail to fully appreciate the importance of those who choose to purchase our products or services?

Clearly, one of the keys to business success is to have a strong client base that not only buys what you have to sell, but become strong advocates and supporters for your business.  

Now, while we would all love to always have "happy clients", that isn't always the case. Sometimes we have clients that are less than satisfied with some aspect of our business. Something went wrong, didn't work as described, wasn't delivered on time, arrived damaged, came in the wrong size or colour. There are many things that could be the source of potential client dissatisfaction.

I recently had an opportunity to share some ideas on how to deal with "Angry Clients".  Hopefully your experiences with angry clients will be few and far between, but when the time comes, I trust that these comments will be helpful to you.

Here are a couple of thoughts to start. Please feel free to add a few of your own ideas as comments to this post!

When dealing with an angry client, make the effort to be:

POLITE – Try to appreciate that the "angry client" is likely at that state, not because of you personally, but rather, they are more likely to be angry because of repeated frustrations that they have encountered. A combination of things have not gone the way they anticipated. It will be helpful to remember that causing further agitate for the client is not going to improve the situation. It will be important to listen to the client, recognize what they have experienced, reassure them that you want to help them find a solution, or next step (as may be appropriate). 

PATIENT – When working with an "angry client" it is important to exercise an extra measure of patience. Listen carefully and try to understand what the client has experienced. Find out what went wrong, look for the root causes, and put the wheels in motion to fix things to prevent similar situations from occurring in the future. (It's a part of the cycle of continuous learning and improvement.)

POSITIVE – While it may be tempting to argue with an "angry client", a more successful outcome is likely to be achieved through positioning yourself as someone who wants to help the client find a satisfactory solution. In a very real sense, we should be thankful that they have brought the problem to our attention. Take the approach that you and your client are on the same team -  that by working together, a better solution will be found for your clients, today, and well into the future!

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