Dealing With Difficult Clients? It’s Your Fault
And it’s easy to fix.
How Difficult Clients Are Made.
I was at a business mastermind recently and one of the guest speakers started out his talk by suggesting that we were the cause of our difficult clients. It hit me right between the eyes. I started asking myself if difficult clients were a new thing?
One thing is certain. Along with the internet, the various social networks, and texting we have all gotten used to receiving feedback quickly when we share information about ourselves. And we expect to be acknowledged fast when we share.
Ask yourself this: Have you, or has someone you know, ever become irritated because they sent a text to someone and didn’t get an immediate response?
It’s like we sit around thinking everyone is thinking about us all the time. Sharing and receiving information quickly is now part of the fabric of society.
Now ask yourself this: Why do your clients hire you?
It’s because of your knowledge and expertise about a particular process. Whether it’s building a house or fixing their computer they hire you because it’s more efficient to have you do it than it is for them to try to figure it out. No doubt, they’ll get a better result if you do the work.
That knowledge or skill gap is a black hole; a black hole of information and how-to.
In today’s world if you’re leaving your clients in the dark then you can expect to be dealing with difficult clients. And they seem to get upset a little easier than they used to.
As a busy business owner you’re challenge is to try and figure out how to compensate for this.
Thankfully it really isn’t that hard …
Sharing is Caring, Not Giving Away Secrets.
If you want to stop dealing with difficult clients then you’ve got to be willing to show them what you’re doing for them. To do this, some of you may have to get over the idea that you’re possibly showing your competition your secret sauce.
Do you remember Ted Airlines?
Ted Airlines was created by United Airlines to compete with Southwest Airlines. Even though Southwest uses a cattle-call approach to boarding they don’t have difficult clients.
If you’ve flown Southwest you know that their crews are always fun to be around and you’ve probably noticed that they fly only 737’s. You might also be aware of the fact they enjoy one of the best on-time ratings in the airline industry.
Many companies have tried to copy the processes of other companies in order to win over customers and Ted was no different. United created Ted because of what Herb Kelleher had accomplished with Southwest airlines. They wanted a piece of his competitive advantage.
The business world is littered with stories of companies that failed when they simply tried to imitate another’s processes. Ted was no different. It began operation in early 2004 and was completely closed by January of 2009.
Before you read any further, realize that your success in business is and will be a result of the combined genius of how you do things and your company culture.
Others will try to imitate what you do and they’ll have varying degrees of success. Most won’t succeed by simply copying your steps because they won’t understand your culture.
If you’re still concerned you should know that most of the ultra-successful people you can think of in business today freely admit that they aren’t concerned about giving away their strategy because they know most people don’t have the stomach to execute or an appreciation for how big a part culture plays in their success.
FAQs Won’t Fix Your Difficult Clients
Your clients want a couple simple things and FAQ’s aren’t good enough.
They want to know that you know what you’re doing, and that you’re actively working on their problem. The difficulty is that you can’t stop what you’re doing to call every client every day and talk with them for an hour about what you’re doing for them. That’s just not realistic.
So what do you do?
Make a list of all the questions that clients ask about the work you’re doing for them. Rank them according to how often they’re asked.
Make another list of the situations that usually result in the most questions. Again, rank them by which ones you have to explain most often.
Lastly, which situations cost you the most time (and money) when you have to explain them. Be certain to include these.
From here you’re going to develop an FAQ list. A piece of advice here is don’t force your list into 10 or 20 questions. These are your clients’ FAQ’s and they should represent your clients’ concerns.
I know what you’re thinking at this point, “This guy just said FAQ’s aren’t good enough anymore and that’s where he just took me.”
Read on …
FAQ’s lack personal touch and they don’t let you time the release of information. Your clients want to feel that you know what their concerns are at every step. Making them sort through an FAQ page misses the mark big time.
Create a Customer Experience
You need videos sent to your clients at specific times in the process to explain what you’re doing and how you’re taking care of them. You’ll start by basing your videos on the FAQs.
In addition to the FAQs I’d suggest you include a few videos that show why you’re so special at what you do. Your videos should show the care you take and your attention to detail. Don’t miss this opportunity to softly market what a quality operation you run.
Let me show you what I’m talking about…
Have you ever seen custom cabinets being built? At the beginning of the process there is a seemingly boring step that has everything to do with the quality of the finished product and the profitability of the cabinet maker. That step is choosing the exact pieces of raw lumber that will be used.
The cabinet maker must pick out pieces that aren’t warped or he must be able to work around that problem. He must pick out pieces that have wonderful character and flavor. He must be able to see where knots will be used to create focal points, or how to get rid of them. I’ve done this job. Literally every piece is eyeballed and imagined where it will be used in the set of cabinets.
Building and installing a set of custom cabinets for a 3,000 square foot home can take a few months. During that time the client is pretty much in the dark.
But what if three days after you’re client gave you their deposit they received a video showing how this morning you would be painstakingly selecting the very pieces that would go into making their private sanctuary a beautiful home?
And what if every week they got a short 2 or 3 minute video showing what you were doing for them that week? It wouldn’t have to be a video of their cabinets, just something that shows your process.
What do you think that would do for their opinion of what they’re paying for?
You can use a service like Aweber, Mailchimp, InfusionSoft, or anything similar to send out your video series. Done well, your video series will escort your client through your process. They’ll learn why your company is so awesome. Their appreciation for your answering of their questions will show up in repeat and referral business. Your clients will feel connected to what you do for them.
Your videos can be hosted on YouTube and kept private so that only people who have the link can see the video. You can use the link to show the video on a private page on your site that clients access when they receive the email with the link. I would suggest leaving as many videos public as possible because they’ll help market your business to potential clients.
Don’t assume that your clients will just go to your YouTube channel and watch the videos. That’s how you create difficult clients. Get their email when you start your business relationship with them and make sure the videos are sent on a timely basis.
A couple guidelines for your video series:
- First, keep the videos to less than 3 minutes if at all possible. You want your customers to be able to watch them during a short break. They need to fit into your customer’s lives.
- Second, don’t worry too much about quality. In the Age of YouTube viewers don’t get caught up in video quality. You’d be amazed at how good you can do with some of the phones that are sold these days.
Managing your customer experience through short videos will save you a boatload of time in the future and it’ll create many more happy clients for you. This won’t cure every difficult client but it will certainly help you stop creating them through poor communication because you’re so busy running your business.
If you’ve tried this, we’d love to hear some comments that some of your clients have had about their experience.
Raised by a serial small business entrepreneur and became a three-time Inc5000 CEO outside the family business. I love business problems and I get a real kick out of making businesses run faster, better, and stronger. I see business problems through two lenses: First, what does the information tell me? And second, what's the best path to get everyone on the same page and feeling good about it?Read Full Bio