Leadership Coaching Secrets For Handling Difficult Clients
Last weekend I was having some behavioural issues with my daughter, that is, she was displaying poor behaviour. This went on for quite a while during the day and culminated to the point where I’d finally had enough. I said to her that she needed to go to her bed and she wasn’t to participate in family activities or indeed in the family at all until she was prepared to behave by the rules expected by the family.
At that point she disappeared off to her bed, I presume. Perhaps an hour later, she came back down and presented me with a note. The note basically said she was sorry, that she was willing to co-operate in the family, and she would meet the behavioural expectations that we had for her, with a cute little puppy dog drawing at the bottom to boot.
Of course, I allowed her back to participate in family life again.
It got me thinking about how we allow the poor behaviours of others, particularly our customers, to behave in direct contrast to the rules we have established in our businesses.
We should, in fact, tell our clients that they cannot participate in our business life unless they are prepared to follow our rules. This may seem harsh but, consider all the rules that your customers are likely breaking in your organisation at the moment.
- Customers not paying on time, or worse, they’re not paying at all.
- Customers are calling you about a particular matter when you’ve already directed them to talk to somebody with that responsibility in your organisation.
- Customers might not be providing you all the relevant information to enable you to do your job.
- They don’t read or listen to your communications with them via email or phone carefully and take enough note to take the appropriate action.
- They don’t take your advice, especially when they ask for it.
- Customers insult or upset members of your team but wouldn’t dare speak to you in that manner.
Leadership Coaching With A Good System Process
We all have clients that are breaking these rules. They’re breaking rules of our organisation and they are breaking the business we have designed. This creates stress in an organisation. It creates stress in the systems and processes and it also creates stress in the human beings involved.
Consider the stresses of the processes when the rules are broken. When a customer does something that is contrary to the systems and processes you have developed, you need to funnel them back in, in the shortest possible time, to those systems and processes. The issue with a customer behaving outside those systems or processes is that the customers issue/order/service runs the risk of being missed completely because it was outside your system or process.
If a client or customer does this with you and you miss them, who’s to blame? Is it the customer or you? The customer will believe you are the one to blame because you should have dealt with the matter that they presented. However, if you clearly articulated the methodology on which you would like communication or in which you would want them to behave and they do not do that, I think it’s time to consider whether:
- the client can be re-educated or
- whether the customer needs to go.
“But they pay me!”, you say. “I can’t turn work away!.”
These are the people that pay our business and these are the people that keep our business afloat, how could we possibly ask them to leave our business? Consider the customers that continually break your rules.
Consider the customers that pay you late. You are not a bank and yet you never charge them interest. You should be charging a higher interest rate than a bank when your customers don’t meet your payment terms. But rarely we are charging anything for late payment. There is an opportunity cost for you not getting paid on time.
The more your customers break rules, the more they are eating into the profitability of your business. I am sure that every customer we have breaks a rule from time to time. I’m talking about the delinquents, I’m talking about the ones that need to be told: if you are going to keep breaking the rules, I cannot continue to serve you.
You never know, sometimes just by having that conversation, your customer realises the importance that you place on your own business and the value you place on systems and processes to enable you to provide the most value. If you can articulate the need for your client to behave and they value you, then they will behave. The worst thing you can have is a customer who does not value you. If they don’t value you, you and they are better off without each other.
Brisbane Business Coaching & Mentoring Services
A key part of our planning days is to articulate what our client’s ultimate business looks like. That includes designing the processes and systems that clients need to abide by AND also includes designing what their customers look like. If you are having difficulty with your customers, consider joining one of our planning days.