Five Essential Strategies For Dealing with Difficult Clients

The best time to establish protocols with your clients is when you onboard them.
Julian Galluzzo
July 28, 2021
min read

Digital marketing requires the flexibility and creativity to work with clients who are from varied industries, which is why digital marketers need a diverse personality. Most of these collaborations go smoothly because they enjoy working on projects that involve communication, collaboration and being creative in their endeavors.

Digital marketers must always go the extra mile for their clients, even when it's not easy. But sometimes you'll meet a client who is constantly skeptical and can be difficult to manage with inconsistency between what they want on one day versus another.

But digital marketing isn't all sunshine, rainbows, and unicorns! It takes patience to deal with such personalities.

What strategies does one employ to keep their sanity when dealing with these challenging clients?

It is important for business owners, especially those who are new in the field of launching a start-up or leading an established agency, not to get discouraged. While it might seem like you will never find your footing from where you stand now and that there may be no end in sight as far as difficulties go...there IS hope! Fortunately, though we can't control how our customers behave on occasion, what they do say about us doesn’t have much weight if we know how to handle them well. The following tips should serve any agency/campaign managers wanting more than just to simply survive but immerse themselves into the challenge head.

#1 - Approach Meetings with Positivity & An Open Mind.

While it’s important to maintain an open mind, the best way to approach a meeting with someone who is frustrated by what you do for them would be not just from your end. It's also crucial that we hear their side of things before reacting in any sort of negative manner. By taking some time out and listening first-hand about how they feel on this matter instead of going into our own preconceived notions or judgmental thoughts right off the bat, there will inevitably arise more productive feedback than if all we did was react negatively upfront without having even heard one word coming out of their mouth yet!

Always keep an open mind when approaching meetings with clients no matter what state they are in at that moment because as humans sometimes change minds.

#2 - Always Be The Bigger Person.

A customer's anger can spread like wildfire. When a frustrated person becomes angry or verbally abusive towards you, it is critically important to stay calm and take the high road because your emotional state will be mirrored by that of the speaker. Your patience will help diffuse any situation before things escalate even further than they already have been.

If a customer becomes frustrated, it is best to stay calm and let them know that they are being heard. The psychology of human interactions shows that the listener subconsciously mirrors the speaker's emotions, expressions and attitudes when in conversations with one another.

#3 - Duplicity.

Some clients can be hard to read because they might express enthusiasm for what you are doing one moment, and then the next seem unsure about your work. Sometimes this is just part of their personality like if someone who was always happy suddenly becomes depressed, or vice versa- but it could also mean that something in the project has changed from which they had been expecting a different result. When struggling with how to handle such situations it helps me think back on your own experiences when I've felt both types of emotions towards things happening around you so maybe there's some tidbit of advice you can offer them.

This is the time to be creative and strategic. When doubt starts to creep in, remind them of their original goals. If you are keeping good data about your progress on projects or tasks, it will be easy for you to show that what they hired you for has been done well!

#4 - Be Quick To Respond.

The client's happiness is your top priority. When they have a complaint, you should aim to address it as quickly as possible and provide them with regular updates about the progress of their project so that if there are any setbacks or delays in meeting deadlines, they will understand why this has happened. If you face an issue where things aren't going well for the customer, make sure you document all efforts made by yourself (or anyone else) to rectify these problems - without documentation showing what we've done when something goes wrong doesn't help us at all!

#4 - Crystal Clear Guidelines.

Frustrations often arise from unfulfilled promises such as when a client wants you to do more work than is in the original contract. Setting clear guidelines before starting any project eliminates this confusion by defining what needs to be done and how much it will cost, ensuring that both parties know exactly what they are agreeing on beforehand. This keeps clients happy because they'll get everything for which they signed up at an agreed-upon price, while also giving them peace of mind knowing their expectations can't change midway through the process; meanwhile, your agency has set boundaries so your business has less risk involved with projects going over budget or taking longer than expected due to unexpected changes in scope - making everyone's lives easier!

#5 - Be firm & Hold Your Ground.

Working with a difficult client can be challenging, but it doesn't have to feel like an uphill battle. If your customer expresses dissatisfaction towards something and you're feeling afraid of their reaction or rushing into fixing the situation without first outlining exactly what went wrong, don’t do anything until you've taken time to actively listen for clues as to how they want things fixed and calmly figure out next steps together. It's important not only that these are actions that make sense for them (to respect) but also prove just who is in charge of this project - YOU!

Fear is a funny thing. It can cloud your judgment and make you do something that hurts not just yourself, but those around you as well. Fearless clients are the worst type of client to interact with because they rarely have anything nice to say about what it is they're looking for in their custom piece or service from you--no matter how hard work has been put into meeting them halfway on everything else leading up until now! The truth? If fear-driven reactions plague this sort of interaction, then there's no point in going forward at all!

The best time to establish protocols with your clients is when you onboard them. It could be a simple email or phone call setup for initial contact, but it's important nonetheless! If they're expecting things from you then you are prepared and can ensure transparency in your agency/client relationship on day one.

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