When working in a client-facing business, inevitably, tough conversations come up. From bad service experiences to increased prices or unavoidable mistakes, many things can cause frustration for your clients. Deescalating the situation requires careful handling to preserve the customer relationship while sticking to good business practices. Here are some tips for navigating tough conversations with clients.
Don’t Be Quick to Judge
It can be easy to assume that a client’s frustrations are unfounded or unreasonable. However, reflecting and allowing them to share their experience is crucial. Sometimes, your business comes up short, and it’s important to acknowledge that. Additionally, no matter how unreasonable a client might seem, it’s critical that you still treat them with respect and professionalism.
Be Prepared With an Ideal Outcome
Next, if you have time to prepare for the conversation beforehand, establish what you would see as an ideal outcome. This will help you to approach the conversation objectively, keeping emotion out of it and sticking to a plan. Having an end goal to work towards can ensure the conversation stays on track.
Ask Strategic Questions
Asking your client questions is helpful for several reasons. For one, it can help you get a more complete picture of their experience and what they would like to see as a resolution. Additionally, it helps them see that you are listening and taking an interest in their point of view. This can help lead to a more constructive conversation and a positive outcome.
Be an Active Listener
Similarly, practice good active listening skills. Summarize your understanding of the client’s perspective, ask follow-up questions, and give them time to respond. This ensures that the client feels heard and understood and everyone is on the same page. This can minimize escalation and preserve the client relationship.
Sometimes, there is no way to satisfy the client within the realm of good business practice. Additionally, sometimes, a client repeatedly takes up valuable time and energy. Setting boundaries and being willing to walk away if a resolution cannot be reached is crucial. Not every client relationship can be saved, so it’s essential to know when to stop fighting.
Tough client conversations can be intimidating, but with these principles, you will be able to find the best resolution with minimal conflict.