Towards the end of my talk last night on How to Handle Difficult Clients, I summarised a seven step process that I have not previously shared on this blog:
|1||Listen to the client||They won’t listen to you until you have listened to them.
When their mouths are open, their ears are closed.
|2||Offer EMPATHY first.
Do not start with
“It wasn’t my fault”
|Make clear that you appreciate their position.
Eg: “I can understand why you must be upset by that.”
Repeat if necessary.
[You are empathising, not sympathising and not agreeing that you, or anyone else, has done something wrong]
Upset people tend to start in the middle
|Ask questions so that you can get the whole story and are able to understand their problem.|
|4||Pause||Make clear that you’re not offering some ‘pat’ prepared response. What follows needs to evidence that you have been listening to what they’ve said.|
|5||Explain what YOU can do for them||Outline what YOU can do.
If it’s not what they want, explain your reasons without BLAMING them.
Take responsibility for the follow up action
|6||Keep your promise||Do whatever you said you would do and ensure that anyone else involves does so too (as far as you can anyway).
Don’t simply delegate or dump it.
|7||Go one step further||This makes the difference between quite good service and excellent service.
Contact the client afterwards and ask if they are happy with the solution.
If they pause before saying ‘yes’ – they aren’t really happy. Go through the loop again.