How to Deal with Difficult Clients for Service Based Businesses

Even how stellar you conduct your service based business, there is always that one or two clients who think it’s not enough or want something more than you can give even after giving your best service. In fact, difficult clients are deemed to be part of any business regardless of what industry you’re in. Yes, friends… it is bound to happen!

So don’t be too hard on yourself when it does.

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Who are these difficult clients?

1. Those that criticize you, your staff or your services but still kept getting your business. You know, that client that makes you want to hide when you see his or her name in your phone’s caller ID.

2. Clients whose mere voice drains your energy.

3. Clients who are slow to pay.

4. Clients who insist on something you know isn’t going to work.

5. Clients that couldn’t resist drama

6. Clients that demands your entire being just because he/she paid for your services

Oh.. I can just go on, right? I bet you have more stories to tell.

So what do you do with them?

Here are ideas I got from my own experience and kind words from known entrepreneurs here and abroad.

1. Listen – let your customer rant or voice out his or her dislike. Most of the time, giving your client the venue to air his dissatisfaction is a step closer to resolving the issue. But listen too, understand the issue and then formulate a good response.

2. Empathize– put yourself in your client’s shoes. Understand his point and then you’ll see how you would want the issue to be resolved as the paying customer. It might be hard but try to set aside the feeling of being wronged or badly criticized. Even when you think their point isn’t exactly agreeing to yours (as the business owner) respond in a calm, respectful and professional manner.

I personally experienced a client who resorted to shouting and berating our staff because she claimed a portion of the house was not clean. I was forced to personally go to the unit and face with the shrieking client. She pointed fingers at me and my staff felt like he was belittled because he couldn’t speak English well (client was speaking in broken English, she claimed her foreigner husband wouldn’t understand Tagalog). I witnessed how small the staff felt after being shouted and pointed at. Even after all this, my husband and I remained cool. I pointed that she didn’t have to throw a fit and shout, she simply had to tell the cleaner to repeat the job whatever she wanted to be cleaned again. Cleaners won’t leave until they are satisfied anyway. Issue resolved after few more tantrums and when I told her I will deduct (even after cleaning the area 4x already) the floor area she thought wasn’t cleaned.

My experience with that lady taught me a lot. Breeding and class, doesn’t come with how much money or education you have. It doesn’t also mean you should stoop down on that level. If you are being shouted at, let them. It’s their vocal chords that’s going to hurt anyway. LOL.  Seriously though, customer is always right. If they claimed, the area was unclean, we couldn’t protest and all we could do is do the cleaning again with them looking after us. Do it until they are satisfied up to their eyeball.

Tough.

3. Resolve– Resolve the issue at hand as soon as possible. Do not let it escalate to a higher level. Accept that there will ALWAYS be clients who will complain, who are dissatisfied so deal with it. Come prepared when it happens again. Of course there are also those that complain SIMPLY BECAUSE THEY WANT TO UNLOAD THEIR **** ON YOU. If that happens, give specific solutions and ask if that settles it. Statements like, “If I revise the plan tonight and give it back tomorrow, will that be good?” or “If we clean this area while you watch us, will that satisfy you?” are some examples of giving (or asking) solutions that are specific.

4. Learn– learn from your experiences and do some measures to avoid it in the future. Bring your entire team/employee up to speed so they know how to handle such situations should it arise in the future.

This situation comes to mind:

A client contracted us to clean her unit, it was just her assistants and children who were present at the unit when our team cleaned. She came home 2 days after that. We got a call from the owner 2 days after saying she was not satisfied.

We now have a policy that cleaners are not going to leave a client’s unit or office until they are satisfied, they will then sign a form saying the cleaners left the room in excellent condition. We do not have control what happens to the room AFTER the cleaners leave.

Did you know you can still gain a lot from customers who complain?

Valid or not, every complain is a chance for you and your business to improve and grow. It’s the time to assess your staff or your supplies and most of all the kind of service you deliver. From these difficult situations, you can gain by learning how to become a better business owner. You gain experience and you are now equipped to handle difficult situations with more ease and grace.

I asked my favorite Mompreneurs, entrepreneurs  and professional friends for their opinions and here’s what they have to say:

You don’t deal with them 😀
You cut your losses. Terminate the deal with them
Limited lang ang buhay at ang oras natin. We can’t afford to waste our time on such clients.

– Architect Lemuel Goltiao

For me, there is no such thing as difficult client. Rather, they like to know if concerns or issues are being taken seriously. One must be attentive and good listener once they start to communicate. Ask questions to let them know you are in control of any situation and interested to what they are talking about.

– Jinkee Umali, www.livelifefullest.com

Keep doing our best. Maintain quality service and professionalism. Patience is a key.. Establish rapport and find the soft spot.

– Dan Uy, Ambucore Ambulance Services, https://www.facebook.com/ambucoreambulance

Listen well to what (s)he has to say. Basically, (s)he just wants to be heard. The best thing to do is to listen and reply only when (s)he has done talking. When done, you can respond to a question like, “what do you want me to do or, how can I be of help?” You’ll be surprised how (s)he will solve/answer his/her own complaints.

– Leonard Dax Castillo Derotas, https://www.facebook.com/CashExpressOnline

I’m the kind of person that likes a difficult client because it highlights our ability to meet the client’s needs rather than performing a service for them. The most difficult clients that I have are currently also my most loyal ones.
Basically, BEST service + difficult client = Room For Improvement.

-Gerel Roa

About the author

Renz Mom to 2 beautiful girls, Peaches & Luzy. WAHM for almost 7 years and then I opened a small condo and office cleaning business. That's just the start. Follow me as I walk along my entrepreneurial journey.

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Comments

  1. I don’t think I can work in customer service lol, I have a pretty short fuse myself I might end up fighting with the customer.
    Rowena Wendy Lei recently posted…Holika Holika Watery Petit BB Cream ReviewMy Profile

  2. I hate Customer Service-related jobs or businesses, but thanks for the tips!
    Sol Razo recently posted…CENTURY TUNA Vienna Sausage CorndogsMy Profile

  3. I am just happy I dont have direct dealing with clients. I have very short temper!
    mamaspeaks recently posted…Senorita Cafe at Robinson’s AntipoloMy Profile

  4. I’m not in the service business but ours require meeting people and marketing products so yes, humaharap talaga sa customers. I also encountered yung iba na magca-cancel due to change of mind, which is nakakairita talaga. But one thing I learned is to be calm. Kasi if we make patol. they can say negative things about us which can affect our business too.
    Ayi recently posted…Review: House of Wagyu Stone GrillMy Profile

  5. Pinakamahirap basta service. Ang key dyan is patience.

    xoxo
    MrsMartinez
    MrsMartinez recently posted…Jergens Moisturizer ReviewMy Profile

  6. Natawa naman ako sa second difficult client description haha. Marami akong kilalang ganyan. Anyway, I love the new policy you implemented after the complaint. Instead of getting annoyed at the client for the unbelievable complaint, you took action, which helped you improve your process. Kudos!
    Maan recently posted…On Dresses and MilestonesMy Profile

  7. You’re one patient Mommy! 🙂 I worked with customer service but I admit I’m not excellent in that field. 😀
    Nilyn Matugas recently posted…My Samples have Arrived!My Profile

  8. Difficult clients and difficult bosses! I’m not too good with confrontations, so I usually go with writing an email instead. I feel like if the client and I talk on the phone immediately after an issue or complaint without having to take a few minutes first to, I’ll cry. I’m too emotional for immediate confrontations.
    Roxi – Mr. Jacob’s Mom recently posted…Mommy Roxi Turns 3 Today!My Profile

  9. Nice stories, i can share these to my students who are in service oriented industry.
    Jho Tacorda recently posted…#30on30 Part 2: Crafty Artsy Giveaway + More Great NewsMy Profile

  10. I guess what’s really required here is patience! That was hard to listen and accept the berating of a customer.
    Louisa recently posted…Clara International Affordable and Effective Facial TreatmentMy Profile

    • That reminds me when I was a hii2#fallutgn&-8h17; consultant and was talking to the chief architect at Sprint. He was of the belief that there is no possible way a website could run properly with a homepage using server side code. I tried to tell him that nearly all websites were backed by server side code and he just called me a liar from then on out.I understand that some people just don’t get websites. That’s fine. But when they blame everyone else for their misunderstanding, that’s when the problems start.

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