The world is full of sage pieces of advice that have been passed on to people for generation after generation often with the original meaning lost, leaving a cliche catchphrase behind. As a Client Service Advisor, the most explicit mantra of all has always been “The customer is always right.” However, What happens when the customer is using their position to demand unreasonable objectives or is intransigent on an issue they do not have the relevant experience to understand? Let’s explore how good client service can tackle these problems.
Nail down your contract with the client:
One of the best ways to deal with unreasonable expectations is to limit the possibility for them to exist in the first place. Don’t promise what you can’t deliver and don’t leave any ambiguity in what you did promise to deliver. There is only one way that this can be guaranteed so that the client and your company are not left disappointed, and that is to ensure a contract is signed.
Seems a bit obvious right? Well, time to be more specific; the contract should be explicit in its terms and conditions about what both parties agree to for a successful relationship. If you don’t have the resources available, then don’t promise them! Disappointment occurs primarily when one party is expecting what the other doesn’t deliver. So use your contract as the base upon which all expectations should be built and how the relationship should proceed until its completion.
Defer To Your Authority:
If you are an authority in a particular field, act like it. If you are sure in your experience that a client’s wishes may directly negatively impact the project you were assigned to carry out on their behalf. Politely inform them where their errors in judgment have come from using your experience and authority in your field give a detailed yet encouraging list of reasons why their preferred course of action is heading straight for a brick wall.
If at this point they still don’t see what their decision-making process is doing to their reputation and yours now is the time to remind the client that they sought you for the expertise you possess and ultimately they are entirely within their rights to ignore you. Eventually, they can also see how this course of action is a waste of time for both parties.
Remember Your Employees:
Sometimes your client might want something from their team that puts pressure on their teams, that’s a regular part of the job, sprints and goals are a constant part of the situation and working systematically through the workload is the best solution. What isn’t normal is a client who specifically loads, or rather, overloads a team with unreasonable or last-minute changes with no regard for their team, the work process agreed upon in the contract or the fact your team is made up of people and not bots.
Employee fatigue can start to manifest very quickly once a cycle of allowing the clients to disregard their teams has begun. The best way to deal with these kinds of situations is to stand by the original contract and stand by your team if a member of the team in question wants to switch to another team; let them! Reorganising a team by swapping out members is a prudent move that can help prevent employee burnout and other possible issues with motivation and retention.
Being proactive about how you organize your team and following guidelines for how and when employees are rotated on service and providing sufficient onboarding for new members to a team is a vital step in avoiding any awkwardness for the latest member of the team.
A partnership with a client is much like any other relationship you have in life; its lifeblood is good communication. Infrequency in contacting your client and informing them of issues is a sure-fire way to damage your credibility and trust by inaction. If, and when, problems arise in your team or project, it’s vital to be proactive in taking ownership to contact the client as soon as possible. Show that you have the clients best interest at heart, even if it means copping to an error on your behalf.
Communication should never be used as a last minute pit stop to try and smooth problems and mend fences. Preferably think of your conversation as a method of keeping the client well informed of everything that’s going on with their project. The good, the bad and the ugly of every process. Obfuscation is tantamount to lying, so try to not only be honest in your communication but make your communication clear and concise. People hate being talked at by an unengaged human customer service bot, so don’t be rigid but keep the call on track by staying to your points and moving systemically through the points the call should cover.
These are the expected criteria of excellent client service and when you lay out the reasons for making sure it’s not neglected become very clear, as it can save you a lot of time, money and problems that can easily be proactively stopped.