Dealing with difficult clients is a part of the construction business. Whether you’re an electrician, carpenter, HVAC repairer, or pipe installation service provider, chances are, you have encountered a few of them. Sadly, no matter how hard we try to avoid them, they will always find a way to find us.
The good news is, there are plenty of ways to handle difficult customers. It’s all in the right attitude and professionalism. Managing difficult clients can be the trickiest when the problem has already occurred. In this article, we’ll talk about handling an angry client during a construction issue.
Respond quickly by focusing on the solution
When issues happen in construction projects, you have to be on the offensive side, but in a more positive way. Do this by responding quickly to the problem and having a constructive discussion with the client. Your conversation should focus on finding the solution and not anything else.
Being on the defensive won’t get you anywhere. Difficult clients can be hard to satisfy, especially if you fail to meet their expectations. When starting a conversation, resist the urge to send an email or text message. Schedule an appointment with them so that both of you have time to talk about the problem and arrive at a solution.
Ask questions and listen
When talking to a difficult client, make sure to provide them enough space to voice out their opinion. Asking them what they feel and what they think about the situation shows how interested you are. This will also make them feel heard and understood, which helps in improving their working relationship with you.
Once you have heard their side of the story, ask them how they want to see the problem fixed. This is another technique to make the client feel involved in providing a potential solution to the situation. In other words, asking questions has a far better impact on clients instead of simply explaining your point of view.
Don’t play the blame game
The basic rule of courtesy is to apologize whenever you make a mistake. A few simple words of apology can make a big difference in reducing the tension out of the situation and calming clients down.
Also, keep in mind that apologizing also comes with a huge responsibility for whatever might potentially happen down the line. In this case, you can tailor the language in a manner that expresses your heartfelt concern. The last thing you want is to play the blaming game and make the client responsible for the problem. They won’t be interested in hearing whatever material didn’t come on time or other failed transactions.
Be firm at all times
While there are situations where you should maintain accountability in your actions, you should also know the right time when to disagree if necessary. Clients hire contractors for a reason; they have the skills and expertise to handle all the aspects of a construction project. In this case, they have the authority to decide what’s right and what’s wrong for a particular job.
So if the client is questioning your credibility and expertise, stand your ground but do it in a friendly and calm way, then focus on working on the solution together. If some disputes and claims don’t look right, this is where the documentation comes in. Back up your statements by providing actual proof, such as the contract, sketches, construction plan, or any type of evidence to put you in a better position.
A great tip is to convert all documentation into digital form, particularly the project sketch. This makes it convenient to present proof right away, especially if you’re in the middle of a discussion with the client and you can’t travel to your office to get the documents. More importantly, it’s important to ensure all documents are updated to avoid issues in the long run.
Learn the art of empathy
Learning to empathize is one of the most important characteristics of a business owner. The same applies when handling difficult clients in the construction business. The secret lies in putting yourself in the shoes of your client. Indeed, you’d hate it when the project didn’t go as planned. Being understanding and emphasizing makes a vast difference in client-contractor relationships. If done the right way, this can put both of you out of the situation quickly.
Managing expectations, careful documentation, and regular communication are the fundamental strategies for dealing with difficult clients. It all comes down to showing interest and being understanding of your client’s situation. Still, it’s important to do your best as a professional contractor to avoid delays in the first place.