Dealing with difficult clients
Not everyone is an A+ client**. Some clients no matter how well the job was done, will always want to speak to the manager.
It’s true, everybody always wants a better deal—especially when we live in an age of choice. However, some difficult clients will go out of their way to get it, and use some pretty bottom rank methods.
How do I spot a ‘difficult client’?
Whilst they may seem very reasonable on first contact, the moment you start to work with them… their true nature surfaces.
For example— It’s reasonably standard in the plumbing industry to include a call-out fee, which is often waived if the quote is approved.
Some difficult clients will demand the fee be waived before you even get onsite to quote. They simply do not want to pay for your time.
This should be warning sign No#1 that this is not the client for you.
We’ve developed four steps to dealing with difficult clients. Use the steps to manage this type of client, and better protect your interests, without stooping to their level.
Step One: Set clear expectations
In the industry, we often see clients feign disappointment over the quality of work in order to get a rebate or additional work for free. It’s therefore important you set clear expectations.
When quoting, double check key information is clearly stated; a deposit is required, and the outstanding balance paid at the end— Each stage of the process should be signed and dated by the customer.
This ensures you have the upper hand at the end of the job, as they have legally approved the work and cost.
Step Two: Set clear timeframes
Some difficult clients will always want the job done faster and put pressure on you to meet an unrealistic deadline. Be firm and clear as to why the timeframe is set, and explain why pushing forward will negatively affect them.
If they continue to push, suggest they sign a secondary form that notes this is against your recommendation and future issues are not your fault. Now you’re legally covered if the job fails.
Step Three: Set clear boundaries
The worst clients will want to speak to somebody else in charge when they don’t get their way. It’s therefore essential there’s a clear line of communications between your staff and you— so nothing gets lost in translation.
Be clear and firm on your standard business operations, and back your team. Always present a united front.
Step Four: Don’t let them skimp
Difficult customers will often pick apart a quote—They will demand to see things like your supplier’s costs, or a breakdown of your cost per hour. They are trying to ensure you don’t make money on the job, so they get the best deal. Stand strong and stick to your pricing structure, or let them go with your cheaper competitor, Billy-Bum-Crack down the road.
Overall, when they don’t get their way, they may resort to belittling you or threaten to give a bad review. They innately believe they are deserving of special treatment and will use any measures to get it. These are not the clients for you, so where possible try to steer clear, or use our four steps to dealing with these types of clients.
**Still not sure where your clients sit?
Use our ABCD Customer Types model to best classify your customers.