Client conflicts are hugely problematic for businesses of all kinds. Not only do they lead to a loss of confidence, they lead to a loss of revenue. Failure here can be deadly for companies on several fronts. This is why it’s important for organizations to understand how to mitigate these situations. Here are six tips for handling client conflict before it escalates.
Determine the Severity
Before doing anything else, figure out the extent of your problem. Is this something you can solve right away? If so, start working at it. You will still need to be honest with the client. Don’t try to sweep anything under the rug. Doing this will likely only lead to further conflict down the line. For big issues, you’re going to need to get comprehensive. Figure out all possible permutations and outcomes that might result from this situation. Being proactive on this front will be beneficial down the line, as it might contain your issue.
Take an Unbiased Approach
Only seeing things from your point of view isn’t going to get you anywhere. It’s essential that you take a step back and remove as much bias as possible. This can be extremely difficult—especially in situations where you aren’t clearly in the wrong. Sometimes, it’s prudent to hire a consultant who specializes in crisis management. This will help you get directly to the best path for solving the problem.
Your client doesn’t want to hear your apologies. That just means that something is wrong. They want to know what’s right. When there’s a conflict, solutions are as close as you can get to that. It’s imperative your company can offer some sort of timely fix to whatever has caused discord. This can come in many forms—short- and long-term. However, if you plan on retaining the customer, you need something.
Check in with Your Legal Team
Client conflicts can lead to more problems than just those involving loss of business. They can also be followed by lawsuits. These are often far costlier than the original issue. Make sure you have professional liability insurance to cover your company in the event of a lawsuit. You need to make sure your insurance is in order before you’re caught in a sticky situation.
Get Their Perspective
We’ve already suggested that you put yourself in your client’s shoes. However, this isn’t enough if you want to deescalate a situation. You should try to get as much client perspective as possible while trying to resolve the problem. By doing this, you can prioritize your action plan based on their wants and needs. They will also appreciate the transparency when working through this conflict. Few things will aggravate a client more than if they feel like you’re not taking their views into account.
Stick to the Facts
When emotions are flaring, people don’t use their best judgment. Don’t let this happen to you while dealing with client issues. It doesn’t matter if it’s a simple discrepancy or a massive implication—just stick to the facts. This should, in theory, be in the best interest of both parties. If one side is unwilling to accept the facts, it implies a level of responsibility for the problem itself.
Client conflict resolution is necessary for every company in the service industry. The best way to deal with these situations is to stop them before they get out of hand. Consider these tips when trying to mitigate client issues.