Posted by bussroot | Posted in Creative | Posted on 06-09-2010
Last Friday our designer Darryl had a particularly trying end to the week with a long-standing client who we have a good banter and a joke with but has a tendency to test patience to the limit. An unjust suggestion that the colour in the logo had been tampered with resulted in this lighthearted email from Darryl:
“I’m sorry, but looking at the existing logo from our files I decided I didn’t like the blue used and just plucked another random blue from the recesses of my increasingly troubled mind. Still, I’ve come to realise that this approach only causes confusion and trouble to all concerned. Taking this into account I’ll revert back to the existing blue that strangely – in our files certainly – bears an uncanny resemblance to the alien blue that I chose by closing by eyes and pointing a stick at a large ‘wrong colour’ wall chart that I use for just these type of occasions. Failing this, I’ll change it to the colour that appears on the PDF you’ve just sent me.”
Joking apart, in the real world, however much we pride ourselves on our customer service, it would be rare for any company to be able to say they’re immune to awkward clients. Most of us would probably admit to having at least one serial complainer on our customer list who appears to delight in looking for a flaw in the service. If you have someone who criticises for the sake of it how do you manage to stay calm while handling the criticism? It takes a great deal of self-control and the ability to listen patiently in order to diffuse the situation. They may well be a picky client, professing to be able to do the job better, but at the end of the day, they’re paying the bill. If you handle it well you can recover from the situation and if the complaint really is genuine it can be used to your advantage as an opportunity to strengthen your relationship and improve your customer service overall.
Never argue, even if you have steam coming out of your ears and you have the urge to head for the nearest punch bag in the gym. Tell them what you can do to appease them, not what you can’t. British Airways when training fledgling cabin crew instruct them never to say ‘No’ to a passenger. Unless he’s an axe-wielding drunken and deranged globe-trotter presumably. Even then there’s probably a preferable way of winning him over to be found somewhere in the training manual. Don’t take it personally. The client (or in fact the axe-wielder) may have just been having a bad day and need to take it out on someone. Unfortunately in this case it’s you. Bear in mind that a negative interaction has a knock on effect. After a difficult confrontation with a customer don’t you then find yourself taking out your frustration in your lunch break on the bank clerk or the slow cashier in the supermarket? You then take on the role of the complaining customer.
Dealing with a disgruntled client is all about vital communication and compromise .When the client believes there’s been a mistake or a lack of service the only sensible thing to do is to acknowledge it. If they believe you aren’t concerned about their complaint or aren’t willing to take the time to listen you’ll struggle to repair the situation. However, where should we draw the line with an unreasonable complaint? If a diner leaves a clean plate and then complains to the restaurant that the meal was disgusting, demanding a refund, should they be humoured? The quandary is, when you’re dealing with a perpetually difficult customer how much of your pride would you sacrifice to keep them happy and collect your fee before you throw in the towel?
Alternatively, you could always ask Darryl to compose an email.