Let’s begin with the assumption that all of us are customers and providers of service and products. It is a magnanimous gesture or attitude that the customer is always right. But, in reality this may not always be true. However, we must maintain our professionalism and service personality at all times. Sometimes, customers are unfair and overbearing, if we share how we really feel and tell them the truth, it is fair to anticipate that we would probably be fired or at the very least, disciplined.
Don’t despair! Help is on the way. The solution is to learn to say “no”, although this is very challenging. All of us have experienced situations where we have had clients or customers who we feel are taking advantage of us. Since none of us want to be a “punching bag”, let’s consider three strategies that may help us through tough situations.
Consider that the issue could be a misunderstanding – The first strategy is to begin to ask your client or customer some questions to determine if a misunderstanding has occurred. If so, you will need to do everything possible to try to resolve the issue in the customer’s favor. Be truthful with the client or customer, otherwise both you and the client will experience a disservice.
Possible loss of client or revenue – There is always a risk that if you tell your client the truth you could lose the business or revenue. Depending on the gravity of the issue, this may be is a risk you have to take. It’s not fair to you or your organization to knowingly allow yourself to be forced to ignore sound business practices. On the other hand, most customers or clients don’t want to be sources of problems to their suppliers or consultants. More often than not, misunderstandings can be ameliorated and the relationship can continue.
A key point is that, if you are not willing to lose the business you may not be able to summon the courage to work out what is fair. It takes courage to explain to a customer or client how their understanding of an issue could be incorrect or misinterpreted. It is also necessary to be courteous and accept responsibility for whatever your role in the misunderstanding might be. The one thing that must be avoided is to blame your customer.
Some business relationships may have to end – There are times that we must mutually terminate business relationships. No one wants to tell a customer or client that they can no longer do business together. The fact of the matter is that a “problem” client or customer will always cost you money. They simply require more service than they are willing to pay for or that for which you are charging. On an emotional level, they are a drain on your psychological reserves, and they cause you not to enjoy your work or business. Finally, they prevent you from being profitable, effective and efficient.
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