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Play With Hard Clients? Be A Good Card Dealer!

Words Tran Thanh Giang_s3360666

Because a good card dealer can proactively control the table. Sure you have heard about clients who love scolding. But at the end of the day, you want more clients for the agency and you have to work with them. Want to dig in the tips? Scroll down and read my article.

Image

Figure 1. Chris Tran and author (Proof of life photo taken by coffee shop’s assistant).

I had a chance to talk with Chris Tran, Managing Director of Daybreak Digital about ‘anti-bullying’ when working with clients who loves complaining, and, b!tching around. Chris can help us approach this issue in a new dimension, together with super useful tips that you can keep in your pocket.

It’s not about fighting back

When you are shouted with hateful words, it means you are attacked. And our instinct is either to fight or to hide in such situation. But if somebody shouts at you: “You are stupid”, you shouldn’t shout back. It’s a very hard, but if the client calls you stupid, first thing that Chris suggests to do is to ask yourself: “Was I stupid?”. If the client has their point, then what’s the problem when the client is right that you are stupid? People make mistakes all the time. When you have mistakes and you realize it, you have to let the clients know WHAT you’re doing to fix it immediately.

Figure 2. (Reproduced by Ako n.d) Self-defense doesn’t always mean having to fight back

Figure 2. (Reproduced by Ako n.d) Self-defense doesn’t always mean having to fight back

Now if you weren’t stupid and the client is being stupid (which is also normal because clients could make mistakes, too), then you have to go back and see what is happening: “WHY does the client say that?”. Neither yelling back and saying nothing could accomplish that. It’s about trying to understand why they’re calling you that and why they are upset. We should all remember that the core problem lies in the work, not the words.

It’s about being proactive

Yes, it all comes down to this. Knowing how to react is nice, but being proactive is more important. I bet none of us want to be called stupid. So be proactive, or you are waiting for a ‘stupid’ name tag. “Be proactive!” seems too general. Specifically and practically, how do we do it?

One first thing you could do is setting the house rules at the beginning. It is setting expectations on how you and the clients are going talk to and work with each other. For example, if somebody calls you stupid, Chris advised that you shouldn’t be afraid to ask them: “Is that our relationship right now? Are you the kind of client that normally calls people stupid? If yes, are you comfortable with me if I call you stupid when you’re stupid?”. You now know swearing and scolding might be just your clients’ way of life. Suddenly it’s not a big problem anymore, right? Ground rules make life clearer and easier to live.

Figure 3. Reproduced by Walters 2013

Figure 3. Reproduced by Walters 2013

Being proactive also means knowing how to avoid such situations that could make clients give hateful comments. Chris recommends calling clients at least once a week proactively on Monday to tell them what the agency is currently working on for them, to monitor their expectations, and you could even give them new suggestions. It could be a very short phone call, but clients appreciate that because they know that their agency is paying attention and what they will get. One more interesting point that Chris has told me is the difference between answering a call and calling somebody. Emotionally, we decide how we want to feel when we call somebody. When somebody calls us, we are not quite sure how we’re going to feel, we don’t know why they are calling us. Thus, when we call we have more control over our emotions. Proactive calls decrease chances of being ‘bullied’, right? Do YOUR job, because when there is a problem and the clients say: “Why weren’t you there?”, you just can’t reply: “Because you didn’t call”.

Clients and agencies need each other to survive. It’s managing expectations since things could go wrong anytime. And you don’t have to be bitchy though. Instead, now be proactive, smart and fun. Proactive and smart means when you see articles or things related to your client’s business, send them over and say: “Hey, this is interesting, what do you think?”. It’s very easy and clients appreciate that a lot. It shows that you are smart, proactive, and paying attention to the industry. How about being funny? My interviewee used to have a client who was at her office at around 9:30PM. Chris once phoned her: “I know you’re in the office”. She asked how he knew, and he replied: “Because I’m in my office, and you work as hard as I do!”. That’s one simply way how they know that you’re working hard, and well, funny, even with random stuff. At the end of the day you have to be somebody that your hardest clients want to work with. Either smart because you do the best work, or fun, which makes it a pleasure. But you can’t do either if you are not proactive.

Figure 4. Reproduced by Nollan 2012

Figure 4. Reproduced by Nollan 2012

(Word count: 724)

References

Ako, D n.d, ‘Fighting back!’, image, Honolulu, n.d, viewed 10 January 2014, <http://www.honolulumagazine.com/Honolulu-Magazine/January-2009/Fighting-Back/>.

Foley, L 2013, ‘Why you should say ‘No’ to clients and become a specialist’, HOW, 18 October, viewed 9 January 2014, <http://www.howdesign.com/creative-freelancer-blog/why-you-should-say-no-to-clients-and-become-a-specialist/>.

Nollan, D 2012, ‘Be More Proactive Using These Four Tips’, image, 5 April, viewed 10 January 2014, <http://www.damondnollan.com/2012/04/be-more-proactive-using-these-four-tips.html>.

Walters, J 2013, ‘The proactive approach to social customer service’, image, 13 August, viewed 9 January 2014, <http://www.imediaconnection.com/content/34663.asp>.

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