How to handle delicate situations and keep your clients trust? Here are few practical points that can help both you and your client bridge the troubled water and further improve your relation.
It has been some time since I started working in sales. Quite some time actually, but not a lot has changed – at least not when it comes to dealing with clients. I still remember one of the first punchlines I heard back then: When dealing with clients there are only two mood modes: good and very good. Roughly translated: You can not have your inner feelings affect your work!
But, how to keep a good mood when the pressure rises and the storm is about to start? Naturally, most people would say: That is not possible! How can you always be in a good mood, how can stress not affect you? Well, it certainly affects everybody, but there are some practical points that can help you minimise it, and can also help you in dealing with problematic situations. It does take some practice though, but it certainly is possible.
Regardless of the relation you have with your client there will always be disagreements, either on a personal or technical business level. They range from small frictions to really unpleasant situations that can sometimes escalate very quickly. These sort of obstacles are happening on a daily level and coping with them is one more skill you need to acquire in order to stay productive and bring valuable contribution to your work environment.
Allow me to share few practical points that help me in those kind of situations. There are obviously more points that I could think of, but these are the ones that I personally find the most important.
In a situation where a client oversees/forgets some details and/or starts to panic, your thoroughness can bring some peace. When a client realises that you are methodical and that you keep track of all crucial details, situation will naturally tone down and give him a piece of mind.
That said, make sure you keep your clients/projects details in order, have few notes for every call you had, every issue that has been resolved, and every suggestion your client might have had. Make sure you stay on top of things, because if you can cover every angle it helps you handle the situation better. Human beings are scared of unknown things by default. The more details you know, the less stressful each potentially problematic situation will be.
Make a plan
No matter how easy or complex the issues is, put things into perspective and make a plan. Try to cover all the angles and look at the bigger picture. Put up a solid plan that engages all the details and people that should be involved. Make sure your plan is realistic and handles the situation appropriately, but be prepared to adapt the plan if the circumstances require.
The imperative is to share a plan with the client. The worst thing is being kept in the dark. With a solid plan you will show your client that you are managing the problem in a proper manner, and that you have used all the necessary measures to have it sorted out.
Always be honest
Admit mistakes! Even if a mistake that was made, by either you or someone form the team, is not obvious you need to come clean with it. Mistakes are for humans and we all make them. Being honest about it is not always easy but is an absolute must. In order to learn from these mistakes, you need to analyse every aspect and know what you did wrong.
Once you find yourself in a situation where your oversaw/missed something that is crucial, the main thing is not to panic. And I can not stress this more! It is the absolute must that you do not transfer this emotion on to your client. These situations will always require a swift response: the sooner you respond the better chance you have of reducing the damage. So again; be honest, react appropriately and promptly. Client will respect this and again be sure that they are with the right company – transparency is everything!
Stay up to date with your “game”
Constantly communicate with the team that works on your client’s project, and make sure you get the right information at the right time. That said, learning about the “potential” problem once it happens, certainly helps no one. In a situation where client is stressed with the issue that popped out “from nowhere”, being one step ahead can help a lot. If you are aware of the potential problem, know the effect of it and potential solution, it will assure the client that you know what you are doing, and prevent some nerves from being broken. Therefore, analysis of major potential problems or obstacles in advance is the key. Having a competent partner is a must, but having a partner who’s thinking things through – and ahead – is everyone’s dream. It is not always easy to accomplish this, but the more you try and gain experience, the more will your relation with the clients benefit from it.
Bottom line: Keep calm and stay positive…
Stressful and unpredictable situations happen to everybody, it is how we handle them what set’s us apart. Keeping a “cool head” in those kind of situations is the only way to handle them properly.
It is natural for people to overstate things and exaggerate a bit when issues appear.In those situations, it is up to us to calm the situation down, with appropriate approach. Having two sides with hot heads involved is not a solution. Always be the one that is flexible when needed and always make a first step and adapt when the situation requires.
Staying positive throughout the “stormy weathers” is the vital part. If you keep thinking about what could have been done instead of what should be done, you are on a train going nowhere fast! Yes, we might have a problem, but try to focus on positive and constructive thinking, rather than being worried. It will yield no results. Being positive leads to thinking more clearly, which means you will make more sense to your client. Or, to explain it simply: you will have better chances of finding a solution.
With each new tricky experience you get more prepared for the ever changing world of business, and with time you will find your own way of coping with stress. Analysing these situations thoroughly will help you prepare for the future and the problems that you may encounter in relations with clients.
Have you ever had similar situations with your clients? I would be interested to hear how you handled them, and learn from your experience.