Communicating with clients can be tricky. For the most part, being really open and honest pays off, but you can’t let yourself get too comfortable with idioms and informality, especially during conflicts and while trying to solve problems.
These are some of the things clients hate to hear when you’re talking to them. With these in mind, you can take steps to avoid awkward situations and find other healthier ways to say what you need to say in order to secure the deal, solve the problem, or diffuse a situation.
It’s perfectly normal to be unsure of certain aspects of a project, especially if you’re early on and need more information. But still, it’s wise to stop yourself from addressing the client with phrases like “I have no idea” or “I’m not sure”.
A nice way out of this is to instead ask questions. Make it clear that you need more information before proceeding and advance the job by being inquisitive. By doing so, both you and the client will feel like the job is moving forward, rather than hitting a brick wall.
Besides, clients will seek out for your expertise – it doesn’t bold well when the pro is unsure. But like I said, you’ll probably only have these moments when you don’t have all the information you need and that’s perfectly normal. Just do your best to avoid sounding inexperienced or clueless in the process.
Sarcasm is pretty common in our everyday interactions as a way to punctuate a conversation with irony. And hey, even sarcasm can be charming in the right hands, but more often than not it comes off as dry, mean, and uninterested… which as you can imagine, doesn’t fit a professional environment at all.
A punctual use of humor goes a long way for sure, but it has a time and a place. Sarcasm, however, is almost always a bad idea when it comes to professional engagements.
It doesn’t matter how much you try, eventually one of your jobs will go South. This isn’t necessarily your fault, mind you, because a number of exterior factors can intervene. Many times, it’s the clients themselves creating a fuss over nitpicks or terms they failed to understand.
But, as frustrating as it might be, it’s always good exercise to keep the blame on yourself – because that’s the only way you can solve the problem. Also, let’s assume for a moment that the client isn’t being petty and that the problem they have with you is fair: the last thing they want to hear is “it wasn’t my fault”.
Also avoid clichés like “this never happened before”. All of these are extremely disheartening to say to someone that just spent money on your services.
I’m well aware clients can cause problems themselves and that’s a tricky situation to be in. But still, if you set your ego aside and accept the blame, at least you can walk away from this situation having improved as a professional.
Unwillingness to help
Solving problems is definitely not the most fun thing you can do at work, but it’s part of the hustle. Nothing kills a client’s trust in your business more than unwillingness to help when problems arise. For them, it feels like a dead end.
Obviously you want to avoid problems as much as possible, but if the client isn’t satisfied for any reason, it’s within your best interest to make sure they are, even if it takes an extra mile.
In short, you want to avoid phrases like “There’s nothing I can do” or “That’s impossible”. These are essentially deal breakers that tell the client you have no interest in solving their problem. Opt for taking a step back and considering how to solve it without taking too much time or money on your side while still making the client happy. That’s not always easy, but it’s better than abandoning an unhappy client that will now go out of their way to bad mouth you in the community.
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