Working in the services industry is no easy task. In addition to the logistics issues, you have to deal with different types of people with varying personalities. It takes a special kind of skill and virtue to be a successful events planner. If you have been in the business for a while, you probably have already encountered clients who are difficult to deal with. And while having customers who are a challenge to please is not something any events organizer would want, there is actually a lot of customer service value that can be learned from these experiences.
Getting To Know The Difficult Client
You’ve had your fair share of customers who just can’t seem to be happy with your suggestions or your work in general. Who are these people and how do you deal with them? When it comes to the events industry, there are several types of these personalities.
- The Type A Customer
This is the type of client who wants to be updated with every step you make at all times — and we mean that literally. It’s like having a helicopter mom as your customer. Regardless of the time and situation, this client will want you to keep texting, emailing, or calling him or her about each move you are making — and he or she will always have a say in what you do.
What do you do? Listen to your client and avoid butting in when he or she speaks, but also don’t be afraid to speak up (politely) when you think what he or she is doing is delaying the progress of the event. You can say something like, “You can rest assured that we are handling your event as if it were ours” to ease his or her agitation. It also helps to lay down all the ground rules at the onset, before the contract is signed, so both parties know their limitations before everything moves forward.
- The Know-It-All Customer
These are the people who are just too busy to do the work themselves; but if they could, they might probably do a better job than you (or so they think). They are the ones who will tell you what to do and how to do it.
What do you do? Show your client added value. This type of customer will most likely ask you to itemize your proposal so he or she can nitpick. Do so early in the negotations and then add something that they did not anticipate to be part of your package. This is so they know that they are getting more value for their money. Hopefully, this will reduce the “pieces of advice” spiels.
- Those Who Change Plans At The Last Minute
So you’re about to wrap up all plans and are nearing full execution of the event. Suddenly, the client calls you and wants some things to change. More often than not, these will be dramatic changes and will cause a panic in your team.
What to do? Anticipate your customer’s needs and find out what he or she likes as early as the initial meeting. Also make it clear during the negotiations that while is change is welcome, once final decisions are made, no drastic changes should be made except if there’s a major emergency (include a force majeure clause in your contract).
- Those Who Always Haggle On The Price
These are the people who think that services do not have a fixed cost and can always be negotiated on. There will be clients who believe that the first rate that you declare is the highest and can be lowered down the more you guys talk.
What do you do? Clients will always try to get more services for the lowest price possible. To prevent this from happening, you can throw in some freebies that do not really cost your company any money or time, just to appease them. That way, your client will think that they’ve succeeded in negotiating with you. If it seems that the client is relentless in his or her mission to dry you up, just change the converation and move on to other topics. This signals that you are done with that part of the talk.
- Those Who Are Never Happy
These are the people who seem to enjoy nitpicking everything you do or say. The best way to deal with them is not to return fire. Instead, overwhelm them with kindness. Difficult clients will find it difficult to get into an argument with somebody who is not biting on their hook so they will eventually calm down and learned to listen back.
When your client is trying to manipulate you into a lower price or getting their way at your team’s expense, just smile and kindly reply. Most clients will be caught off guard by the politeness, thus giving you leverage.
Remember that you do not always have to book every client that you speak with. If you know that this person or company is going to drain you and your team of your energy and resources, often it’s best to just decide to walk away. This is especially true if this one client is preventing you from also giving the best services to other customers.
Find out early on in the conversations if this is the type of client you and your team want to work with. If not, just nip it in the bud before it turns into a nightmare. A simple “So sorry, we’re all booked up” or “We apologize we don’t have the bandwidth to handle your event right now” can save you from a whole lot of headaches.