It’s happened to the best of us. Those difficult clients that never seems to be happy, no matter how hard we work to satisfy them. The ones who complain about everything or are slow to pay. The ones who drain your energy and challenge your passion. Difficult clients are par for the course in every industry, including property management. It’s how you deal with these demanding individuals that can make or break your success. Here’s how to handle any situation without losing your customers or your sanity.
Choose your words wisely.
In many instances, it is our own words that create tension without us even realizing it. For instance, perhaps you’ve got a client that prefers to get right to the point. When you use loose language and vague terminology, it frustrates them. The next time you are interacting with a difficult client, listen carefully to the words and terms he or she uses and try to mirror them. When you speak in a way that your clients can relate to, it will remove conflict and put them at ease.
Adopt the term “in my limited experience.”
When someone makes a statement that seems insulting and belittling, whether it’s a client or a close relative, it can be infuriating. Tacking the phrase “in my limited experience” on to the end of such a statement can diffuse the situation and put it into perspective. For instance, let’s say a client says, “Property management services a waste of money.” By adding the suggested phrase onto the end of that sentence, it becomes clear that the client simply doesn’t understand the complexity of the job.
Guide the conversation.
In many cases, a difficult client is really just frustrated and trying to be heard. Often times simply acknowledging their position and allowing them to vent can be enough to diffuse the situation. In any event, resist the urge to escalate. Instead, guide the conversation toward reaching a resolution. This can shift the client away from ranting and toward a solution for their complaint. The key is to remain calm and in control at all times.
Document and use visual reminders.
The last thing you may feel like doing is sitting down face to face with a client who drives you crazy, but this is often the most effective way to resolve issues. Whenever possible, schedule in-person or, at the very least, video chat meetings and use visual tools to document the problem at hand. That way, should the client try to backtrack, you can point to what’s already been resolved and move the conversation forward.
Know when to bow out.
Sometimes, there’s simply an oil-and-water situation in which a personality conflict exists that cannot be overcome. It’s important to be able to recognize this and take the appropriate steps to deal with it, whether it’s passing the client on to someone else in your property management company or cutting ties with the client altogether.
Every professional has to deal with a difficult client from time to time. Thankfully, in most instances, applying one or more of the above tactics should help smooth things over and set the tone for a more positive business relationship moving forward.