Service providers now have to compete globally for business, both in terms of their service pricing, and also in the quality they provide. Now and again, a challenging customer can disrupt your normal activities, and learning to deal with these disruptions is an essential acquired skill.
Rather than rising to the bait, it’s your job to keep your cool, even when a customer is angry. Additionally, the systems you use to carry out your work are a fundamental part of healing these broken relationships; there may be something you can improve that will stop the same thing happening again.
1. When something needs to be discussed, reach out by phone
Email is a great business tool, and it lets us communicate globally with unbelievable efficiency and speed. But when a relationship starts to falter, and a customer becomes more demanding, there’s no substitute for a phone call. Overseas call charges can be a barrier to effective communication, so consider a VoIP service to bring the cost of calling down.
2. Set clear customer service boundaries
Offering good service means being available to customers, but that doesn’t mean you should put your life on hold. Demanding customers may expect you to drop everything to help out of hours, or send emails at 10pm asking for an urgent call. A hosted desktop is a great way to make sure you can work from anywhere, but make sure you set some boundaries – don’t let customers have a monopoly on your time.
3. Improve visibility of their project
If you offer professional services on a remote or freelance basis, it’s easy to get out of sync with your client. Sometimes, tensions arise because there’s a mismatch between what’s been offered and what the client thinks has been accomplished. If you use cloud file sharing, you can quickly update them on progress, without the worry that a file will bounce back. Make sure you use version tracking, so the client always knows which revision of the document you’ve sent.
4. Bid them farewell
As your business matures, you’ll realise that there are some people you just can’t please. It might be down to a mismatch of personality, or it may be that their needs have shifted over the years. If you really can’t satisfy a customer, knowing when to close their account can save everybody a lot of time. You can get on with the work you’re best at, and they can choose a different provider who’s more able to give them what they need.
Learning to love difficult customers
Nobody likes arguing with fee-paying clients, but they can actually teach you a lot about business. A difficult client could help you develop your negotiation skills, or better define what you can and can’t offer.
Next time you come up against a difficult customer, think about ways you can improve your IT services to communicate more effectively with them. There are times when you’ll just have to part company with a difficult customer, but if you spot ways to get around the problem and improve the relationship, the outcome of that change will benefit everyone.