When you work in a client-centric industry, conflict is bound to come up every now and then. There will be times when you don’t necessarily see eye-to-eye, and while you’re doing your best to help them meet their business goals based on your areas of expertise, disagreements will always pop up, and can sometimes evolve into full-blown disputes.
Near the end of last year, Work Awesome published an article entitled 6 Tips for Dealing with Client Conflict, which lays out some strategies that companies can use should they fall into an argument with any of their customers. It covers how to approach a conflict, how to work towards a resolution and knowing when you should walk away, with a detailed, step-by-step look at how to solve the situation in a diplomatic matter. From the article:
Handling business disputes is a delicate art. Do it the right way, and you will prove to your client that you’re attentive, dedicated, and capable ─ all traits he or she should find desirable for a continued relationship. But handle it poorly, and the result could spell disaster for an important partnership.
These are wise words. Take things too far in an argument with a client and you may find yourself with one less customer. Disputes are rarely worth losing a client over, especially if you have an otherwise good working relationship with them. That’s why it’s important to know how to handle these situations properly; when you have the knowledge you need to resolve a conflict peacefully and with benefits for both sides, you’ll be able to move forward and hopefully have whatever caused the conflict to begin with solved so it doesn’t bring any more problems down the road.
Here’s one of the tips the article offers:
3. Let your client speak ─ and listen carefully
When your client is upset, he or she will want to do the talking. The best thing you can do is let it happen. Don’t interrupt. Just listen carefully to what’s being said. Eventually, the client will get tired of speaking and you will have time to say your piece. You may even be invited to interject, in which case you should oblige the offer.
Again, wise words. If you don’t let your client get a word in and go on and on about why you think they have no right to be upset, they’re just going to get that much more angry and may start to view you as irrational or unreasonable – not a good trait to have in someone you want to help you build your business. Letting them talk and listening closely as they get their grievances out in the open will not only help them calm down, it will also allow you to see things from their point of view, understand why they’re upset and come up with a reasoned response to their issue. These are good first steps towards bringing a conflict towards a resolution without risking things getting overheated or causing the client to walk away.
If you’re in a client-centric industry, this article is worth a read to help you deal with any conflicts that may come up in the future. Being prepared for this type of situation will also allow you to handle any future disputes more easily, which will reduce the risk of letting one argument lead to you losing a client.
Do you have any tips for dealing with client conflict? Have you had to handle disputes with clients in the past? If so, how did you do it? We’d love to hear your stories, so let us know!