On occasion in the business world, you’ll find it’s client versus company.
Contrary to popular belief the client is not always right!
Don’t get me wrong, I’m not saying clients are an enemy force to be wary of. In fact, they’re part of the backbone of your company. Without them, your business wouldn’t succeed.
But there is a specific type of client that needs to be dealt with carefully. If you haven’t already come across this type you will at some stage and you will need to know how to deal with them.
You can read my disclosure here.
So prepare yourself because one day you will meet a client that you will have to give a professional and courteous slap! And you’ll need to know how it’s done.
Slapping clients??! I must have lost my mind right? No, not at all.
So what is it and how on earth do you slap someone in a professional and courteous way?
If you haven’t met this type of client yet, I imagine you’re also wondering why it would ever be necessary.
So here’s the why, when, and how, to administer “the slap.”
Understanding The Types of Clients
First of all, you need to understand your clients. As an owner, you need to study them. If you’re not doing this already – start studying! There is huge value in it! They’re like sheep and when a shepherd knows his sheep he knows exactly how to look after them.
He also knows how to take them in any direction he wants which is a valuable thing in business.
So here are the types of clients –
The slightly rude
Each client teaches you something and gives you a challenge that can help you grow in some way if you’re willing to learn so pay attention to them.
Friendlies are such a pleasant breath of fresh air, like a lovely spring day. Always smiling.
Then there’s the questioner. They’re more like summer, still pleasant but they can be tiresome with the heat of all their questions.
The slightly rude. They’re like the windy days in autumn – you can deal with them and even enjoy the challenge they present but careful not to let them blow all the leaves off your tree.
You don’t want to be rude back!
Finally, the-far-beyond-acceptable. Winter – cold, dark, unforgiving, biting, and definitely an absolute zero. Generally, these are the only clients that need that slap.
The first three, for the most part, if unhappy with a service or product are gracious and forgiving and will remain your loyal clients if you deal with them pleasantly and professionally.
The far-beyond-acceptable makes life a misery from day one.
The Day We Met Our First “Far-Beyond-Acceptable”
His order came via message. Usually, I filled the role of the customer service rep and my husband would do more behind the scenes. But that day my husband received the message.
I could tell he was irritated as he was responding. Suddenly, he exploded. “I am not dealing with this person. They can take their order to someone else!”
I took over from there. A quick glance at the messages and I knew exactly why he was angry. In hindsight, we both wished that we had refused to serve this client but then we never would have had the opportunity to learn how to recognize or deal with his type.
He wanted a custom made order. That was fine, that’s what we offered.
He did not want it at the price we had quoted.
He told us the name of another company that could do it at a quarter of the price.
We weren’t averse to discounts and actually my husband had already given this first-time client a good discount.
He informed us that he was kindly bringing his business to us and due to that we should do the work for the price he asked.
I’d have loved to see this person try to book a first-class air ticket or medical procedure at half price by telling the service providers they should do it out of gratitude for the business he was offering!
Let me highlight just how unreasonable that request was. At the price he wanted to pay for his order we would have had to top up $400.00 just to cover the materials never mind the labor.
To top it all off he was blatantly telling us that we were far too expensive and asking that we take short cuts and use cheaper materials.
It’s like someone telling a car manufacturing company to make their car out of paper instead of metal and promising they’ll be happy so long as it looks the same.
No car manufacturing company would do that! Of course not! They’d be liable when the person was injured and when the car blew away with the first strong wind. Do you honestly think in a lawsuit that story would stand?
So, never sacrifice your quality and standards to please a customer.
You will hurt your company. If what they want is not something you offer, politely decline their business.
Great Customer Service Even For The Challenging Client
Anyway back to the point, we as a business held ourselves to a high standard of quality of product and customer service. Businesses flourish when they use their own standard to measure themselves and we would not compromise on this. Follow the link if you’d like to read more on how to make your business stand out.
Part of customer service is explaining your products to your clients. It’s not unusual to have a client underestimate the value of something, especially with a custom job. They don’t know the cost of the materials or the hours that go into the work.
And that’s absolutely fine! Usually, once you explain it to them they’re happy and ready to order.
We took pride in our customer service and would go the extra mile even with the more challenging clients.
I was once told the hard ones are the best. You learn a lot from them. And it’s true.
So we made a point to make sure a client left feeling like they’d had a great experience with us even if nothing went further than the quote.
But how on earth were we supposed to do that with our far-beyond-acceptable?
In Came The Professional And Courteous Slap
It’s like navigating a minefield but don’t worry you’ll manage it when the time comes if you follow these steps. Here’s how to do it.
Remain professional. Do NOT lose your cool. You will regret it.
Get possession of the facts. You will need to know every detail in order to win this one.
Buy yourself time. This situation needs careful thought. Responding immediately will probably get you into making the item for free. These clients are quick to jump at any opportunity!
Plan your response. This is where diplomacy at it’s most creative level leaves your client feeling like they got what they wanted when you actually kindly said no.
Once you’ve done steps one, two, and three your response will look something like this.
An explanation of the great service you strive to offer.
The quality of the products you use in order to give your valued clients (take care to make them feel like one) the best possible product.
And finally a polite finish – if they feel this service is not in their budget tell them you’d be more than happy to show them a similar yet very basic product that they could afford.
Professional and courteous slap delivered!
The Far-Beyond-Acceptable will then either very quickly decide to pay the fair quote you offered that included a discount or they will take their business to someone else. They will also have no real or justifiable reason to be upset with you or your company!
To end our story, within a few minutes our client ordered at the price we had offered. We would have preferred not to have done the work as this client continued to be difficult.
But once we had completed the order, we had dealt well with the client, provided a beautiful product, and we had learned the value of “the slap.”
Protect Your Business
So, are customers always right?
Yes, in general, the spring, summer, and autumn types are and you will want to take that approach with them as they are very valuable to your business.
Do you need to accept being stepped on by an absolute zero?
No, you do not! As explained there is a polite and professional way to shut the cold winters out!
Any good business owner knows the feeling of “being the ship.” If you’re needing encouragement read this.
From one business owner to another learn how to protect yourself and your business.
Good luck navigating those waves!