Tuesday, July 30, 2013

Clients 101

In my professional experience, I have dealt with many difficult people. Angry parents, needy pet owners, lying students, and whoever else. Many times I wanted to scream at them or even smack them in the head, but I haven't. Then again, maybe there have been slip ups. But overall, there is nothing more annoying than a person yelling at you and you can't yell back. Or a person telling you how to do your job, when they have no idea. It's miserable.

Here are some of my tips to dealing with clients.

Be Clear. Always.
Communication is key with customers. Often I use the sentence, "Help me help you". People just want to be heard. If they feel like they aren't being brushed off, then they are more likely to work with you instead of against you. If you aren't sure of something, don't say it. Anything they can use against you, they will. If you said you'll be back in 5 minutes, you better be back in 4 1/2 minutes. Say what you mean and mean what you say. A bit of empathy is needed for this, I feel. Cause if you really really don't care, it will show. This is the root of a lot of bad customer service performances. You need to visualize yourself in their shoes. With that said, don't get walked all over. Many times, I've had clients string me along or use me up and not pay me anything. Or worse, WASTE MY TIME. There is almost nothing worse to me. Do not let it happen, otherwise it will keep happening. So make sure everything is also written in an agreement to prevent misunderstandings. In my case many times, I think some clients think I'm their personal assistant. ...um NO.

Reiterate. Again & Again.
You really can't repeat yourself enough. Repetition helps things to stick. This can often increase the chances of a productive experience on both sides.

They are not your friends.
You can become close with your clients but not so close that there is a blurred line. You get paid to deal with them. At least initially. Not to say some clients don't become something more. But remembering that you have a job to do helps keep things professional when it's time to be professional. I have clients who are like friends to me and I often take measures to make sure the relationship stays in an appropriate professional relationship.

Overall the goal is to have a pleasant experience with your client and not always a rash one. It's really worth it in some cases to be considerate and overly understanding, others it is not. Just being honest. Know when the cut off is. You don't deserve to be tortured or harassed. HELL NO. Or annoyed to the point when you are constantly complaining and in a bad mood. No No NO. End the professional "union" and move on. Trust me, everyone around you will appreciate it. =)