There will always be times throughout the life of your web-based business when clients are not easy to work with. While it’s not fun, it’s part of being in business. To overcome challenging clients, here is what you need to do:

  • stay calm
  • communicate clearly
  • know what you want
  • hold your line

#1 – Stay calm
Sometimes issues with clients have nothing to do you. Even if they do, pull the emotion out of the situation. Business is business. Keep it that way. Sometimes the best thing to do before you reply is to step back. Walk away from the computer, DO NOT reply from your phone without taking time to think. If the phone rings and you aren’t ready to talk…don’t pick up!

Remember that you are addressing an issue with a client, not attacking the client personally.

Breathe.

Yes, having client issues sucks but remember that you are a Wild Web Woman and you are in charge of managing the relationship. You CAN manage the relationship. Steer it into the right direction and know that this is your business and if you need to end a relationship, you hold that power.

Have a plan of what you need to say so you say it well.

#2 Communicate clearly
Communication is not king in business, it’s the whole freaking kingdom as far as I’m concerned! Know what you want to say (and see #1 – remember to keep emotion out of it!) stick to the issue and say it. Putting things in writing is best (email works well) as it keeps a paper trail.

And if things go wrong due to your error, own it and present a plan for correcting it. I often coach my clients to give their troubled clients choices (option A…. option B….) it empowers the unhappy client and shows a way out of the unhappy situation for both parties.

Let’s say a client is not happy with your services even though you have done everything promised or is paying late. Your contract should spell out all the work and give you a backbone to communicate off of! Refer to the contract (that is the best option and if the contracts are not clear about rules and consequences, then it is time to re-write them!).

Client challenges are part of business. Have your notes ready, know what you want and keep things professional.

And if it’s a really tough situation, you can always ask for help. I coach our members all the time on how to handle tough situations.

#3 – Know what you want
If you have to handle a tough situation, then you need to know darn well what your ideal outcome is. Just like you goal set for your business, you need to goal set to have a guide out of your tough client situation! Know what you want and own what you want!

For example, If your policy is that late pays have a late fee, then you can say that you noticed there was a pattern in late pays and you will have to charge the late fee if funds are not collected by (pick a date).

#4 – Hold your line
We frown on parents for being inconsistent with their kids, right?! If you aren’t consistent and hold your line (respecting your rules with clients) in business, then you are sending an unclear message and that is bad “parenting” to your company! Rules are rules. If you are going to enforce them, do it with everyone and stay on top of it.

Your clients will respect you MORE if you do.

Respect is reciprocal.

And remember, problem clients do not have to be tolerated.

Time needs to be devoted to ideal clients, not ones that suck your energy. Be willing to let bad ones go – you owe it to your overall clientele. Own the issue and steer it to better waters or let the client go.

Resolving Client Issues Bonus Round!
Wild Web Women – One of the easiest things you can do to help prevent potential difficult clients is to have clear contracts!!!!!!!!! When someone signs a contract that lays out the rules, scope of work, what happens if more work is asked for, fees, payment policies, etc., then any issues that arise are not between you and the client, it’s between your contract “the business!” and the client.

Being able to say “the contract says…” or “our terms state that late fees incur a late fee of ___” or “professional has the right to terminate relationship if rules are not prohibited” save you so much headache and give you the map you need to steer bad relationships into clear waters.

What should you do if you have tried to resolve things and things are still bad? Let them go! Elsa in Frozen has a whole “Let it Go!” song – it’s for you! Ha!

Break up with problem clients who don’t self-correct so you can give your time and energy to the right clients.

When you make it clear to a problem client that you do not need them and won’t tolerate clients who don’t follow rules, they have a choice…to behave or walk. Wild Web Women don’t need clients- they want and attract ideal ones. The tactic of taking personal ownership and making it about business not the person makes all the difference. Example of a client breakup speech:

Client name, it seems to me that (I or your company) is not the right (firm, design studio, website company, coaching solution, copywriting company, etc.) for you. We have rules (state what they are) and they have been broken (if you have hard numbers, that is best). While this may not suit you best, it works well for our clients and allows us to serve everyone better. At this point, it will be best to seek another professional.

Final Note!

Own your worth and run your business like a business!

Have rules and policies and remember to lead with love… love for your clientele and love for yourself.

If you are burned out with bad clients, you don’t have energy for the great ones and you owe it to the great ones to pull weeds out of the client garden to keep things beautiful. Don’t be afraid, it scarier to have problem clients vs. helping them know how to correct or letting them go!

Hugs to you my wild web sisters!

Lorrie Thomas Ross, MA
The Marketing Therapist® and Wild Web Women® Founder
Of all the things Lorrie imagined she would be someday, Wild Web Woman® was never on the list. But thanks to the wild, wacky and wonderful web, she is living a happy, healthy life and enjoying a lucrative career she loves helping women brand, build and boost their web-based businesses! Read More

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