As someone in the business of cloth making and operating a business which is barely a year old, I have had to deal with some clients who are the human versions of ‘bitter pills’.
If I did not absolutely love my business, I would have closed shop the first time a client made me cry. Yes cry. And I know that a lot of us as start-up business owners can actually relate (if you can’t, then I hail you).
The good thing about having difficult clients, as a start-up business, is that they toughen you up. They teach you lessons and help you create boundaries and principles.
Here are some tips that have helped me deal with difficult clients as a start-up business.
1. Understand your clients
Your business will attract different personas with different values and backgrounds, and all of this will play a part in their business interaction with you. At your first meeting or consultation try getting a feel of your client, they are most likely there to try/ figure you out as well. Your first job for them might not turn out right, but the feeling they have around you might bring them back for a second try.
2. It is not worth the effort.
I am talking about screaming. Sometimes I think the bane of the cloth making business is when styles are being referenced in pictures. When your client has made a request, which you then try your best to fulfill, it can be pretty frustrating when they begin to have an attitude. The worst is when the client says “this isn’t what I wanted”.
Oh boy! There are so many sides to this particular story and so many ways this can go. But, despite the strong need to defend yourself and react in like manner, don’t.
Yelling right back at them will solve nothing and frankly is not worth it.
3. An apology does not make you foolish
Even if you are right, a riled up client is not going to listen to your explanation and definitely not to excuses. Apologise and apologise again. Eventually they will calm down (even if it takes days) and may realize their mistake. Don’t hold your breath though.
4. Agree to disagree.
Sometimes we come across clients who seem to block out all explanations and suggestions. Agreeing with them in the moment will save you the headache. You can drive your point home, later, with facts.
5. Be honest no matter what
It can be difficult sticking with the good side when your client acts like ‘the boss of the underworld’. But, I have had really annoying clients come back and say they appreciate my honesty. In spite of who your client is, compromising on morals is never the best route to take, for any business.
P.S: Remember: your client is your boss!
What are your top tips on how to handle difficult clients?
Let us know here.