You start work on a Monday morning feeling a little blue that the weekend is over and you hear the phone ringing. You secretly hope it might be your guardian angel telling you to take the day off and head back to your duvet but alas, its Mr. Chronic Complainer ready to bite your head off. Not far behind him is Mrs. Know-it-all and Miss. Always-first-in-line ready to make your day difficult but we’re here to help you tackle these three tricky customers.
The age old idea that ‘the customer is always right’ is something that has been frustrating employees for many years but there is an element of truth in this notion. We aren’t suggesting that the irate customer who calls up to insult your education on account of how much of an imbecile you clearly are is correct but we are saying that in order to keep the reputation of your business polished, you need to react in a calm and professional manner. So we’ve taken a look at three of the peskiest types of customer that you as a freelancer are likely to face on a weekly basis and put together some advice on how to best deal with them.
The customer who thinks they know how to do your job better
This customer is likely to ring at least three times a day and use the words ‘you know” in an irritated tone of voice quite a lot as if they are checking you do still know how to do your job properly, don’t you? They’re also prone to reminiscing about a time when they did something similar to you (and did it better of course), even though it’s probably entirely unrelated to your role and it can become near on irresistible to resist bellowing “well do it yourself then” in reply for much longer.
However as we have already mentioned, it’s more vital than ever that you remain cool, calm and collected with these challenging customers. As tempting as it might be to defend yourself as a person, it’s important to remember that you are representing the business and it is your livelihood that is on the line.
So our advice is to be firm with these characters but approach with caution also. Reassure them in a polite manner that you have the situation in hand and that you know exactly what you’re doing. Stay one step ahead of the game by regularly updating these particularly demanding clients to nip the issue in the bud and reduce the chances of them feeling the need to say “I told you so”. Don’t let this type of customer knock your confidence either – it’s your job, you know how to do it and you know how to do it well at that.
The serial complainer who is never happy
To cut a long story short, these customers are never going to be happy. Even if you provided them with an explanation to the meaning of life and anointed them with gift of eternal youth they would still be “dissatisfied with your terrible service”. No matter what you do, they will always find a reason to complain because quite frankly, they revel in their own perceived disadvantage and love nothing more than good moan so try not take it to heart.
This type of customer will have you feeling on edge constantly, like you’re walking on egg shells but it’s paramount that you never, ever let them sniff out your fear or unease. Serial complainers thrive on weakness and will pick holes wherever they can point their fingers so the best tactic to take here is to project confidence and professionality so as not to fuel their fire of futile fury.
Don’t mistake confidence for arrogance, however. You do still need to listen attentively to everything they’ve got to say and take their opinions on board. When it comes to customers who seem to complain more often than they blink, you can find yourself in a boy-who-cried-wolf kind of situation where you shrug off what they’re saying as another empty rant.
But you don’t want to end up overlooking a genuine issue and tarnishing your own reputation in the process so reassure them that you are dealing with their requests and if the situation becomes too much for you to handle, pass it on to a senior member of staff.
The customer who always wants to be first in line
This customer simply does like to be kept waiting and especially not at the expense of another customer who they will always regard as inferior. This customer tends to believe that your entire business was built purely to satisfy their own individual needs so why on earth should you not be there at their every beck and call, which can be hard work as an employee. It can be a real test of your patience to deal with type of client but again, it’s vital that you establish some effective techniques that will help you do just that.
This customer will believe that they should be prioritised above all else and it can be beneficial to you to make them feel that this is the case to a certain extent. Do your best to tend to them as promptly as you possibly can and consider passing them on to a colleague with a lighter workload if you are particularly busy yourself to allow them the sense of exclusivity they quite clearly crave.
Just be mindful that other customers aren’t being neglected in a bid to get one tricky client off your back or you’ll end up with an army of angry customers who have the power to make or break your vulnerable business.