Avoiding and Dealing with Difficult Clients

Difficult clients come in many forms - picky people, constant complainers, fault-finders, and the worst of all - angry customers. Setting expectations early, and living up to your promises can head off most of these problem people.

When you do run into problems, treating customers with respect and empathy, listening to their problems and then taking swift action is always the best solution. Research indicates that customers who complain are likely to continue doing business with you if they fell they were treated properly and their problems addressed.

In the past 3 years I have had very few angry clients. I believe that prevention is always better than cure. Having good processes in place and working hard to provide your clients with peace of mind while you care for your pets will ensure happy customers.

Before we discuss how to deal with angry customers here are some of my tips for angry customer prevention:

1) Set clear expectations by accurately describing your services on your website, in your sales materials, and at the initial client interview.  Make sure the customer knows exactly what they will and will not recieve as part of your service. Ensure that your pricing policies are clear and client understands what they will be charged.

2) Leave pet clients a note every time you visit or provide a service for their pets that details the time that your service was performed, how their pet behaved, anything unusual that occurred, and what services were completed.

3) Encourage clients to call to check up on their pets while they are in your care. You will find that many clients do not call but knowing that you are available will give them confidence.

4) Send a confirmation email to clients before their services commence. Give them the contact details of the person that will be caring for their pets.

5) Give clients a card or keyring with you business contact numbers that they can carry with them so that they can easily contact you if there are changes to their plans such as flight delays.

If you do have to deal with an angry customer then you should follow this 5 step plan:

Respect : Remain in control of your emotions and respect the clients need to express their greivances.

Empathy: Put yourself in your customers shoes and see the problem from their perspective.

Listen: Let the customer vent and listen attentively to undertand the source of their frustration. Don’t try to cut them off or urge them to calm down. Acknowledge their feels and when you feel that they are finished say “I’m sorry you’re experiencing this situation, let’s take a look at the next step”

Identify the problem: Restate the problem to them to confirm that you’ve understood the heart of their issue.

Resolve the problem: Leave the customer with the understanding that your goal is to resolve their problem. Give them a time when you will call them back and then do your best to make the calls, or get the information to get the problem solved. Get back to the customer at the time promised even if you haven’t yet resolved the issue to give them status. This will let them know that you are trying your best to get things fixed.

Follow this plan and you will have done everything you can to keep their business. Remember that prevention is easier than cure. Look at your business processes and see where you can improve your customer service and put measures in place to ensure that clear expectations are set before you care for your clients pets.

If you’ve found a system or approach that works please share it with us by leaving a comment after this blog post.

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