At some point or another, you’re probably going to come across one. Anyone who works with customers or clients will probably come across someone who’s unhappy or a bit rude eventually. It’s not much fun and sometimes it’s difficult to think of the right response when put on the spot.
It can be easy to get on the defensive straight away but that rarely ends in a positive or productive outcome. So here are a few steps to go through when faced with a rude client:
Try to keep your cool
First of all the most important thing you need to do is keep calm. Keeping calm will allow you to handle the situation better and think of the most reasonable and productive response. Let your annoyance and hurt feelings take over and you might end up saying or doing something that you regret.
Put yourself in their shoes
Think about why they’ve approached you in this way to begin with. Has something gone wrong with the work, has communication been problematic? If there is a clear issue that needs to be resolved, try to understand how frustrating this will be for the client and then take steps to make it better.
However, if the problem isn’t evident it could be something on their end. They could be having a bad day or business could be tough. While this is no excuse for being rude, learning to think of the reasons for it will allow you to pause and think before rushing in with a defensive response.
Remember the facts
Make sure you and your client are aware of all the facts. Their reaction could be due to a misunderstanding that needs clearing up first of all. By running through the facts together you can make sure that your client is more likely to remain calm too.
It also opens the dialogue to a more reasonable and productive discussion. Rather than trading insults it’s important to realise what’s gone wrong and more importantly, how it can be resolved and how you can move forward together.
Have policies in place
If it turns out you’re in the wrong then you need to make the situation better and make sure the client is left as satisfied as they can be in a situation like this. This might mean doing some extra work for free or providing a refund or discount for next time. Sometimes it’s better to do this than risk the disgruntled client badmouthing you on social media.
Know when to put the phone down
If your client becomes aggressive or insulting then that’s a good time to take a step back and end the conversation until they calm down. If they’re angry, the chances are they’re not going to hear anything you say or anything you do say is going to make them angrier. This will then make it harder for you to stay calm and for you both to come to a resolution.
Cut your losses
If this is a client who frequently gets rude or aggressive, there’s no reason why they have to remain your client. If you’ve tried everything to resolve matters but nothing has improved, then you might want to drop them. That way you can spend your time and energy more productively with other clients who are a better suit for you.
Make sure you complete all outstanding work and then politely explain that you will no longer be doing any work for them. The chances are if they’re unhappy they won’t cause too much of a fuss as long as you give them enough notice for them to find someone else.
Whatever you choose to do, just remember to remain as calm as possible and think through all responses before jumping into a confrontation.
Have you ever had to deal with a rude client? Let us know how you went about it in the comments section.