As a SEO consultant, you may need to handle a wide variety of customers and while a majority of them might be easy to handle, there will certainly be a few tricky ones that demand special attention and care. You need to keep a cool head and try to prevent problems from escalating or cropping up in the first place.
However, this is easier said than done and here are a few tips to handle tricky customers in case they begin to act difficult.
The first tip that can actually help prevent pain as well as solve problems related to tricky customers is to communicate effectively with all your customers. Rather than keeping your communication channels limited to professional talk, you should ensure that you call them regularly even if it is merely to wish them happy holidays or inquire about their weekend.
In fact, you can also take regular customers out of your office to drink coffee or for a small treat so as to talk in relaxed surroundings and away from the formal office ambience. In addition, you also need to communicate to your customers that you genuinely care about their business and would like them to succeed by putting in your best efforts. Once your customers realize that you are making genuine efforts, they will be less inclined to snap at you in case of an error and will instead try to patiently sit down with you to solve the issue.
You should also make sure that you maintain a record of all conversations, emails, or any other forms of communication with your customers. This may seem a daunting task, but will surely help you out in case of any disagreement with a tricky customer.
Rather than being on different pages on what to expect out of your SEO efforts, both you and your customer should sit down to formulate a written plan. This will prevent miscommunication and disappointment at a later stage, and please your customer in case you exceed the decided targets.
Of course, weekly, fortnightly, or monthly reports should be provided to your customers as per the decided format to ensure that they are kept informed about your efforts. In case you have done far better than expected, you need to bring those results to the attention of your customer to make him or her realize that he is getting a much bigger bang for the money. A sanctioned plan at the start of each month along with a matching report at the end of the month will indicate to both you and your customer if the planned strategy is on track or whether it needs further fine-tuning.
You also need to avoid jumping the seniority ladder in case you are facing difficulties with a customer. You will only end up aggravating the matter and the person who has been assigned to deal with you. Instead, ensure that you communicate all problems in writing to keep a record and try to sort out the problem with persistence and tact.
In case of any problem, you also need to make sure that you contact your customer before your disgruntled customer calls you. This may seem frightening since you will have to bear the outburst of an angry customer, but your customer will certainly appreciate your honesty and could calm down enough to sit with you to work out a solution.
While it may seem easier to deliver any bad news by email, it would still be wise to call them up or break the bad news in a face-to-face meeting. Your customer may react in a restrained manner when you communicate bad news at a personal level rather than a letter or an email. However, you also need to ensure that you already possess all answers to potential questions thrown at you by the tricky and angry customer.
You need to admit errors made on your part rather than merely offering excuses or making empty promises about future results. You should actually indicate that you are not at all happy with the results and provide a plan how you intend to tackle the problem in the future.
You should also realize that arguing with a tricky and heated customer would be fruitless. Even if you do win the argument, you will only end up aggravating the customer who will then proceed to terminate your services with a vengeance. You need to use tact and know when to give way to a venting customer so as to accede a little in order to allow the customer to calm down. You can then put your point across in a manner that still convinces the tricky customer that he or she has won the argument at some level.
However, there may be times when anything you say or do may not convince an unhappy customer. In such rare cases, it would be better to bid goodbye and part ways on amicable terms. The customer might just return back to you at a later date or may at least avoid badmouthing you before other prospective customers.
The above tips should help you handle tricky customers that form part of any business. You should bear them in mind, especially in times of crisis.