How To Deal With Difficult Customers


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Customer is king – no questions about that. But one has to agree that there are some customers who can be difficult to deal with. Regardless of whether you are a freelancer or a large business with hundreds or customers, you inevitably meet customers who can drive you crazy. How does one deal with this? Is enduring bad customer behavior part of one’s job?

According to Erez Zundelevich, the head of Online Marketing at IM Creator, dealing with difficult clients is part of business. However, how you deal with them will partly define your reputation as a small business owner. He advises business owners to have clear agreements on pricing, estimated timetable and prior agreements to the number of revisions/modifications as part of your project. Such clauses as part of the contract agreement will not only save you from disagreements with clients at a later stage, it also demonstrates professionalism from your side. So how does one go about this? The following tips might help.

Revise contract after each engagement: There is something to learn from every business engagement. There are instances where you overshoot the project deadline or those where the client refuses to pay because they are not happy. At the end of every engagement, it is important for the business owner to make a note of all such instances and learnings and identify a way to incorporate such scenarios in the contract. For instance, you could offer a standardized penalty clause for overshooting deadline – this way, when similar instances arise in future, you have a mutually agreed upon solution to work with.

Have a work phone: It is important to be available to customers when they need you. However, it is also critical to acknowledge clients who do not respect your private life and are known to call providers late in the evenings or on weekends to discuss projects. To deal with this, it is a good idea to have a work phone that you could make unavailable outside work hours. It is also important to inform your clients in advance about your availability hours so that there are no rude shocks.

Fix appointments for status updates: As a business owner, you could be working with multiple clients at any given point in time and it can be highly distracting and also inefficient to respond to status updates from individual clients on the fly. Some customers can be very difficult to deal with and can call multiple times every week to ask for updates. To deal with this situation, agree upon a day and time of the week for status updates. It is also a good idea to take all incoming calls through appointment so that you can stay focused on your tasks.

Raise your prices: If you are dealing with too many customers who haggle, then the best way out is to raise your prices. It sounds counter-intuitive but it is a well-established fact that customers who can afford higher prices tend to haggle a lot less. Also, such clients are used to working on appointments and as a result tend to respect the provider’s time better. Raising your service price could bring you fewer projects, but can also help you improve your service quality that has a direct impact on word of mouth referrals and thus more projects of value down the line.


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