• Advice

5 communication skills you need to deal with difficult clients

Communication is an essential tool in your business, at home, and basically in every aspect of life. You cannot avoid it, as it is the mean through which we share our ideas and listen to others' opinions.

But as a business owner, handling demanding clients can be a big challenge. That is why you need to master your communication skills to handle the most difficult of them. They will always be there — you can't wish them away. Master these tips and you just might turn them into loyal customers!

1) Listen and communicate carefully

When a client comes at you with guns blazing, stay calm. They may have a point that is worth noting.  Listening to them and showing a sincere desire to help can help diffuse the situation, as you're demonstrating that they are valued.  

So instead of reacting to rudeness, stay cool. After they voice their complaints, express your opinion calmly and clearly — and try to empathize.

2) Restate their concerns

The next thing you need to do is reiterate the issue, calmly. Summarizing their concerns shows that you listened and that you take them seriously. This will make them more open to reasonable problem-solving approaches.  Keep that friendly smile in place.

3) Empathize and apologize

Whether their grievances are justified or not, show the client empathy. If they are justified, the first order of business is to apologize — particularly if the situation is black and white.

And if the client is wrong, at least apologize for the misunderstanding before offering a solution. This will make the client more amenable to whatever you propose. And remember: if it is your fault, treat it as a learning experience.  

4) Negotiate with respect

When the client is rude or demanding, you must respectfully try to talk them out of it. Try to understand where this client is coming from and maintain your professionalism throughout. Do all you can to tone down the client's anger rather than aggravating it.

One way to do that is to admit your own mistakes, but also treat the client with dignity if you must also point out theirs.  Encourage them to say what they would wish to be done, then make it easy for both of you to reach a middle ground. Show this client that they can trust you again to do business with in the future.  Your goal is to repair the relationship so that you can — if you'd like — work together again in the future.

5)  Follow up

After you have solved the client's problem, make sure you implement the solution immediately and follow up on how well it is working.

Perhaps you offer a discount to let the client know that you still value them and would love to do business with them again. Doing all this will score you points as a business. The client will be confident that you will always be there to handle any issues that arise, and that you will remain professional.    

In conclusion

As a business owner, you must strive to keep the lines of communication open — with both challenging and easy clients. You cannot avoid having difficult clients. However, you can make sure you have all the necessary communication tools to manage them.

Cheryl Hearts is a writer and editor. Check out her blog