I’ve touched on this before, but I want to dedicate today’s blog to those who expect perfection at the cheapest rate possible. I recently stood behind a lady in Starbucks who was bringing her drink back. Starbucks has a great policy on drinks that are made to subpar standards. They will remake the drink for you until they get it right. She had a tall drink. She went on and on about how terrible it was. She was making me late for a meeting. She demanded her money back. The barista said ‘no’ and explained the policy. She continued to hold up the line. Shortly after, I found out she was complaining about a basic, tall coffee. The cost was less than two dollars. Annoyed, I gave her the two dollars….. My meeting was worth more to than the cost of her coffee.
After my meeting, I was waiting for a cab in a professional building’s lobby. I heard three people talking about their marketing company. They were upset that it had been three months with no results in their opinion. So, I asked them who the marketing company was. They gave me the name. I asked them if they have seen business increase over the past three months. They said they have, although it has been a slow journey. I asked them why they thought the marketing wasn’t working. They said because the company hasn’t hit the million dollar mark in sales yet. I asked them what they did at their company, they said sales!
Sometimes companies make mistakes. Sometimes companies can be the blame for the shortcomings of other people. Either way, there are going to be difficult people in the world and difficult clients.
The best way to deal with a difficult person or client is to be empathic, shut up, listen, and then offer a solution in a low, calm voice. If this doesn’t work, ask the customer how you can rectify the issue. If their solution is way off base, ask them to leave. There is no saving this customer regardless of what you offer. You should move on.
Starbucks, in this case, could have saved their complaining client by adjusting their policy and providing her with her two dollars back. The marketing company noted above can’t do anything about its perception. The sales people are simply relying on the marketing company to do its job and theirs. In this case, the marketing company needs to fire the client.
I hope these two different examples help you determine when and how to move forward when dealing with difficult clients.
Twyla N. Garrett