For my out-of-the-home job I work at a financial institution. On a regular basis I am berated and yelled at by clients. While I do not enjoy being yelled at day in and day out, I have learned some techniques to deal with the small percentage of clients who are just jerks.
Policies, policies, policies. Make sure you set up policies before you launch your business on how you want to handle returns, inquires, etc., and place them on a visible section of your website. Policies can always be re-evaluated, but if you already have something set in place you can refer to the policy in case of a disagreement. It also helps to have a policy so you know how to handle a situation when it arises.
I’m sorry and. Starting with “I’m sorry and” is very helpful. It could be “I’m sorry and I want to resolve this as quickly as possible,” or “I’m sorry and will call the post office right away to locate the package.” Avoid “I’m sorry, but”. “I’m sorry, but” automatically puts all the blame on the client (which it might be their fault). An already pissed-off client will not calm down if you blame them for the problem.
Get the client to do the work. Just recently we had a client at TOTS who wanted to place an advertisement which did not fit with our site. We told the client we could not proceed with placing their advertisement. The client sent a string of disgruntled emails demanding their money back. No money had exchanged hands but there was no explaining that to the client. Instead I said I would contact paypal for them, I just needed their confirmation code for when they sent the money. By giving the client a task that was very reasonable but knowing they could not complete it allowed the client to understand that we could not refund money we did not receive. Problem solved.
K.I.S.S. Keep It Simple Stupid. Now I will admit I struggle with this one. I like to give WAY too much information and a lot of times it goes back to bite me in the butt. When dealing with an upset customer, keep your information straight and to the point. You do not want to be dealing with an a-hole customer longer because you need to explain something they originally were not upset amount.
Have you ever dealt with mean clients? What are your tried-and-true methods? Let me know in the comments.