First a disclaimer: if you're our current client, this is not about you. 😜 But anyone who's been in business for a while has certainly run into challenging situations with customers. It doesn't happen often — but when it does, it's upsetting and demoralizing, right?
So we paid attention when we came across 8 Ways to Deal With a Difficult Client*. The article is a few years old, but too good not to share. Here are some key excerpts (point #2!). It's worth clicking the link to read the article in its entirety.
- Choose your words carefully. Listen and mirror your client's words to help put them at ease and assure them that you understand their needs.
- Add FroMLE to the end of ignorant statements. This stands for “from my limited experience,” and the trick is to add this phrase — mentally — to the end of statements others say that offend you.
- Be very specific, use measurables. Ask for specific examples of what troubles them and then propose specific, measurable remedies for the problem. Then ask point blank: “If we solve your problem, does that fix this situation?”
- Acknowledge, but don't agree. Sometimes agreeing with a client may add fuel to the fire. If you can acknowledge their position and shift the conversation to the resolution, you may shift away from the ranting and toward a solution for their complaint.
- Pin down the outcome. Keep your focus on what your client wants you to achieve. Don’t waste your time treating the symptoms while ignoring the disease.
- Use visual reminders and document it. The author recommends face-to-face or video conferencing with problem clients, and using a whiteboard to jot down the client’s complaints and stay on track.
- Recognize a real personality conflict. Sometimes you’re just going to run into an oil-and-water scenario where you can’t find a way to work with a specific client. Your best bet may be to find another member of your staff to assign to the client.
- Fire them. When all else has failed, and when the emotional drain is no longer worth the revenue, it may be best to cut your losses and move on. You get to spend your time working with more productive clients, and one of your competitors may get your irrational client. That’s a win-win.
* Michalowicz, Mike. "8 Ways to Deal With Difficult Clients." 8 June, 2016. American Express Trends & Insights. https://www.americanexpress.com/en-us/business/trends-and-insights/articles/8-ways-to-deal-with-a-difficult-client. Accessed 25 August, 2021.
Most businesses have slow periods, whether it's due to the economy, the season, the competition, or any other number of reasons. (Looking at you, pandemic. 😷)
For us, business can slow down in the summer because families are on vacation, kids are out of school, and business owners aren't typically in "ramp-up mode". That's been especially true this year because people are traveling more and catching up after months of isolation and social distancing.
A drop in business and revenue can be stressful, for sure. But fretting about "what if" is counterproductive. ("What if business doesn't pick up? What if we have to shut the doors? What if the money runs out"?) Obsessing about what might happen can be paralyzing and make the situation worse. On the other hand, ignoring the issue and taking no action could be a recipe for disaster.
So what do we do during slower seasons? We stay calm and focus. We ask what we can do differently, what needs to change, how we can improve. As we've shared in previous newsletters, in the past year we rebranded, launched a new website, changed our business model, and signed up for online classes. Does that mean there's less stress? Not always. But we get up every day determined to do the best we can. We expect business to pick up in September. And we're ready!
What about you? When are your slow times? What do you do during a business lull? Drop us an email and share your experience. We'd love to hear from you.
Not that long ago, we were having conversations with potential clients who were hesitant (at best) or adamantly opposed (at worst) to working with anyone virtually. That has changed dramatically in the past year.
Some recent stats about remote working:
Bottom line — remote work is here to stay. For those of us who have been working remotely for years, that's welcome news.
But let's be honest, sometimes it's a drag to live and work in the same place, day in and day out. When you need a change of scenery, here are 17 of the best spots to work remotely.
You can also check out co-working spaces in your community where you pay a monthly fee for shared office space, meeting rooms, networking, and other amenities. WeWork has locations worldwide and a sampling of other co-working spaces is below. (These are some cities where we have clients and readers, but if you don't see yours, click here to search.)