Client Management: How to deliver outstanding service when dealing with problem clients

October 12, 2017

Unique summary: We’ve all dealt with problem clients in the past, but understanding how to resolve their issues and maintain a positive working relationship for the future can be easier said than done.

Every business should understand the need to deliver an outstanding level of customer service, as failure to do so can have a severe and adverse impact on a company’s reputation.

However, when it comes to the realities of customer service, there are always those individuals who prove difficult and end up being costly to a firm if not handled correctly.

Here, we offer a range of top tips to ensure brokers and agents always have the answers when dealing with even the most difficult of customers. It can be tough to deal with clients who have unrealistic expectations, have had a bad experience, or who simply clash in terms of personality, but there are steps businesses can take to help these relationships run more smoothly.


Listen to their problems

The first thing to do for anyone facing a difficult or irate customer is to listen to the issues that they are facing. Ensuring you are giving the proper attention to a problem can quickly help to defuse the situation, as sometimes people with complaints simply want to know their unhappiness is being recognised.


Communicate clearly

Being clear and concise in all communication with a difficult client or customer is essential, as this helps to create a clear framework for progress towards a positive resolution for all involved. Avoiding ambiguity will also provide reassurance for both parties regarding the future steps being taken to resolve complaints.


Choose your words carefully

Building on from our last point, anyone dealing with a difficult customer should remember to choose their words wisely. This means avoiding inflammatory language and mirroring the choice of words and phrasing of your client. This can help to put people at ease and assure a difficult client that you understand their needs.


Be firm, but fair

An important element of dealing with difficult customers is to stand your ground if issues are not your fault, or if you’ve fulfilled your obligations to them. This doesn’t mean being dismissive of their complaint, but understanding that you’ve done all that you can and setting clear boundaries for what is and what is not your responsibility.


Always remain professional

Sometimes difficult clients can overstep the bounds and act in a manner that is less than professional. Rising to the challenge of maintaining your own professional standards in these cases can therefore sometimes be challenging. Nothing is to be gained from losing your cool though and this will only lead to an escalation of problems for you to deal with.


Adjust your own mindset

Being able to see a problem from your customer’s perspective can go a long way towards conflict resolution for many difficult clients. You may not always agree with what a difficult client is telling you or asking for, but understanding why it is they feel that way can lead to a better appreciation of how a problem can be fixed.


Be specific on future action

One way to resolve client issues successfully is to be crystal clear on what future action you will undertake to address their concerns. Set out in writing what your future actions will be and deliver on your promises. This ensures difficult customers know exactly where they stand and what to expect. It also creates a clear timeline for issues to be resolved.


Stay in control

Being assertive and remaining in control of the situation will help to ensure problems do not escalate when dealing with a difficult client or customer. By maintaining confidence and rejecting unrealistic or unachievable demands, you are better able to command respect from the other party, which in turn can help in the creation of trust.


Follow up and be proactive

Keeping difficult clients happy can be a challenge in itself. As a result, you need to be proactive in following up on any previous actions that you’ve said you will undertake, while also keeping in regular contact to ensure any new problems do not grow.


Utilise their feedback

Always remember that the swiftest route to avoiding future conflict with difficult clients or customers is to ensure the issues they faced in the past are not repeated in future. As a result, you need to realise that dealing with difficult clients can be a perfect opportunity for your business to improve its processes and avoid similar problems with others.

As you can see, addressing the concerns of difficult clients can represent a real challenge for many agents. However, by staying calm and in control of the situation, while being proactive in your response, anyone faced with the tough prospect of delivering outstanding customer service in the face of unhelpful behaviour or downright rudeness can do just that.