Last week I talked about giving your people some authority to deal with difficult customers without manager approval. If you missed it you can read it here.
But what do you do if this does not calm the client?
In those cases, or in situations that seem particularly heated, then I would recommend that you take over the responsibility for handling the situation yourself.
Not only will this show your employee that you are there to support and back them up, but speaking to the ‘person in charge’ can often defuse a particularly irate customer.
BUT, always listen to both sides.
Even when the situation seems clear, be sure to get both points of view not just the customers, even if it means meeting privately with the employee afterwards to get their perspective.
It gives you an opportunity to discuss how the situation could perhaps have been handled differently. You also give your employee a chance to talk through and dispel any negative feelings about the situation or the customer.
If all else fails, then consider removing the abusive customers.
Good employees are just as difficult to find as good customers. If a customer is abusive or unreasonable more than once then you need to decide at what point you ask them to leave or sack them as a client.
In service firms, often those difficult clients are ones that are likely to be bad payers, or maybe even not very profitable work in the first place.
For many business owners the thought of dropping clients feels un-natural. But consider it from your employee’s perspective. If they continue to get annoyed or upset by clients and worse still don’t tell you about it, then there is a potential that they could leave your firm.
So, you need to decide the point at which the risk of losing valuable employees is higher than the risk of losing a difficult client.
Recruitment of good people takes a significant amount of time and money, is that cost higher than the cost of trying to replace that one client?
Do you know who your difficult clients are?
Have you asked the team who they think the most difficult clients are?
More importantly do those lists feature the same names?
If you haven’t already got the list, then I would recommend you create one now and then take some action to deal with those one the list.