How to Deal with Difficult Clients

How to Deal with Difficult Clients

Nobody likes a difficult client. Inevitably, though, we will encounter one. 

This is the nature of owning a business, and realizing that we can’t possibly make everyone happy all of the time. However, how we handle an unhappy client can turn a bad review into an ally for our business. Below, I will discuss how this can happen.

I often see the age old adage, “the customer is always right” met with resistance from service providers. Nobody likes to be talked down to, no-showed, or bullied into reducing their prices. However, there is a way to keep boundaries, appease the client, and also keep your long-term goals in mind. And while it’s true that some people are just looking to complain, it’s also true that delivering exceptional customer service is actually an art form.

So, lets begin with the client that is unhappy with their service:

Most people hate confrontation and would rather not say anything directly to you. They may not express their dissatisfaction to you, but that doesn’t mean they aren’t expressing it to others. That is why it’s so important to be in the moment, and connect with your client so that you can properly read them.

If we know the results weren’t what we were expecting, the most important thing we can do is first acknowledge, and second, find resolution. Too often, I see estheticians not care about an unhappy client because in the end, they got their money. For those that have that mindset, think about what happens after that client leaves. Unhappy people love to complain to others, and word of mouth can either make or break a business. Finding resolution is always in our business’s best interest.

A client expressing their unhappiness and wanting us to make it right is a gift, because it gives us a chance to make it right. Embrace that opportunity, understand what happened (were expectations not established? Pricing unclear?) and do your best to rectify.

Now let’s discuss how to handle the client that no-shows:

No-shows are no-fun, and many times I wonder if people realize the implications of leaving us hanging; we don’t get paid. However, rather than sending a chastising text, or worse, a bill through the mail, I think it’s important to educate our clients. They aren’t in our industry, and many are totally naïve to the fact that without them showing up, we are missing out on money.

So gently educate your clients, and let them know (respectfully) how it impacts your life. This can provide a moment to make a connection with your client and build a relationship with them. Our time is valuable, and sometimes we just need to remind them of that. I think it’s absolutely important to have policies in place, make them abundantly clear to clients while (or before?) they book, and take it seriously if they violate them. But, it’s important to realize life happens and being kind and understanding goes a long way.

Next, the client that asks for discounts:

Personally, this client is the bane of my existence. Oddly, though, it’s usually one who feels a kinship towards you, and in turn, thinks you owe them something. Do you have any of these clients?! There are some clients who come to me quite regularly that will ask the cost of something, to which I reply, “it’s usually this amount, but for you it’s this amount”. Some may say that’s selling myself short, but I know that if I don’t significantly discount, and the client feels they are getting a good deal, they will be back, and that is money in my pocket. It makes them feel special, and for me, that is how I create loyalty within my business with those types of people. These clients aren’t for everyone though, so if you have a firm no discount policy, I applaud you!

In the end, to truly deliver great customer service, we must remove our ego. Think long-term, rather than being “right”. Make policies and procedures clear from the beginning, removing any gray area for clients. Keep in mind, too, that our relationship with the person who lets us touch their face and body is ultimately the most important part.

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