8 keys for calming cranky clients

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Jun 01, 2011

Dealing with difficult clients? It's important to remember that they're people with needs. Determining and addressing that need is one of the most effective ways of managing difficult situations. To be successful, keep these tips in mind:

1. Stay calm. The instant you recognize a challenging situation, take your professionalism up a notch. Take a deep breath. Put a smile on your face—a genuine smile. Speak slowly and clearly, and do your best to serve this client well.

2. Speak with confidence and competence. Believe in yourself and your abilities. Put your shoulders back and make appropriate eye contact. Infuse your voice with a pleasantly firm tone that communicates your authority and expertise.

3. Try to understand and resolve the problem. When a client speaks, actively listen. Hold respectful eye contact, close your mouth, and be attentive. Ask clarifying questions when necessary. Make every effort to see and understand things from the client's point of view—don't immediately assume she's wrong. Communicate your intent to resolve the issue.

4. Be empathetic. Don't be afraid to say, "I can see why this is upsetting to you." You don't need to take blame, but it's important for clients to feel you're working to help them resolve their challenge.

5. Resist defending the practice. Arguments create a win-lose scenario. If the client is the loser, the pet and the practice will also suffer. Instead, work to create a win-win ending, in which the pet receives the needed service.

6. Depersonalize the situation. Minimize "we-you" talk; focus instead on the problem and its resolution. For example, don't say, "We require preanesthetic testing and you need to agree to it." Rather, try, "Preanesthetic testing ensures that Angel is healthy enough to undergo anesthesia."

7. Stay positive. Always believe that a resolution is possible. Detach your emotions, if necessary, and focus on finding a solution.

8. Check back to check up. Make a follow-up phone call to ensure clients are satisfied with the resolution to their problem. If they're still experiencing troubles, this is a great time to continue partnering with them in resolution.