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Tips on dealing with dealing with difficult clients

(Author: Bui Bich Phuong – s3343746)

Dealing with difficult clients is the fact of life for client managers. We cannot just ignoring or escaping them. According to Mr. Nguyen Cao Ky Chuong, Managing Director from Left Brand Connectors – a brand consulting firm, finding techniques that help you keep the clients happy and win them to your site is the key to provide great customer service. So, how can we ease the tension caused by a challenging client with high demands?

Reproduced from Zazzle Media 2014

Reproduced from Zazzle Media 2014

The first thing we need to do is staying professional at all times. Keeping emotions and staying calm under fire are not always easy, but it doesn’t mean that we are losing ourselves. Instead, maintaining a positive perspective and finding solutions should be encouraged. When facing a problem, it’s best to take a step back, remove all emotional influence from the situation and consider possible solutions to the problem. “Focusing on what a client actually needs, not on their manner”, says Mr. Chuong when he mention about working with any client. No communication with a client causes more problems, so the second thing is to keep communication open, ask what clients want or need and listen carefully to their answers in order to firmly decide on what should we do to solve an issue and reach a compromise. All forms of communication including written, verbal, face-to-face and body language reflect our profession and help to clearly understand each other’s positions and obstacles. Thirdly, Mr. Chuong believes that changing our own behaviors and attitudes is the best way forward. Once we understand the clients’ business and their underlying wants or needs, we can change our behaviors in a way that encourages the clients to change theirs. The end result is a better business relationship. Another useful tip from Mr. Chuong is keeping record of all dealings and communications with clients as well as email to the clients and summarize the main points of meetings. Also, we have to make sure that we receive the clients’ written approval via email or other types of official document regarding to all records or dealings. It is useful for both sites to refer back in the future as well as avoid situations that the clients keep changing things. 

A photo of Mr. Nguyen Cao Ky Chuong and me (taken by author)

A photo of Mr. Nguyen Cao Ky Chuong and me (taken by author)

All above tips is for finding a cure when things do go wrong. However, when it comes to dealing with difficult clients and keeping them happy, prevention is better than cure. So, how to prevent a client from becoming a problem? The first thing that Mr. Chuong mentions is using contract to clarify our services. In contract, we should explain exactly the extent of our services and set up expectations in advance about what our agency can and cannot do to the client. By clearly defining the responsibility, goals, expectations and intended results, we make sure that everyone is in agreement and is caught up with what’s going on. Secondly, all information on fees regarding to both assigned and additional works should be informed to the client before starting the project. Additionally, the fee’s information should be clear and in an appropriate form to avoid confusion. Creating clear, appropriate and healthy work boundary is also necessary to prevent a client from becoming a problem as it maintains respect and protect rights from both sides. So, as early as possible in any project, we should establish clear agreements with the client regarding both sides’ role, availability and working hours. Finally, the most important thing to avoid any issue while working with clients is to create added value for all clients and ensure them receive the highest quality work.

(Word count: 594 words)

References

Beverland, M, Farrelly, F, Woodhatch, Z 2007, “Exploring the Dimensions of Proactivity within Advertising Agency-Client Relationships”, Journal of Advertising, Vol. 36, No. 4, pp. 49-60.

Rich, K, Klontz, T, Klontz, B 2007, “Helping Clients Change: 21st Century Tools from a 19th Century Fable”, Journal of Financial Planning Vol. 20, No. 4, pp. 62–67.

Solomon, R 2008,The Arts of Client Service, Kaplan, New York

Waller, D S 2004, “Developing an account management life cycle for advertising agency client relationships”, Marketing Intelligence and Planning, Vol. 22, No. 1, pp. 95-112.

Wessler, R L, Sheenah H, Jonathan S 2001, Succeeding with difficult clients: Applications of cognitive appraisal therapy, Academic Press, London, UK.

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