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6 Steps to Fix A Bad Client Relationship

6 Steps to Fix A Bad Client Relationship

You’ve worked incredibly hard in order to properly structure and build your business. The word of your services has managed to spread conveniently and you get one gig after another by increasing your customer list. However, that’s when something bad happens – your relationship with a certain client goes south. For some reason, you have disappointed the client and the things are going in the wrong way. Regardless of the reason, the most important task that you now have at hand is to properly mend your relationship. Otherwise, you are actually risking of the word to spread which could cause an avalanche of lost customers.

So, how do you do it? How do you fix a relationship which is obviously broken? Luckily for you, nothing’s ever truly lost. We have 6 steps that you can take into account in order to heal the damaged relationship and get things back to normal. So, without any further ado, let’s go ahead and take a quick look.

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1. Recognize the issue.

The first thing that you need to do is to identify the causes which led to the broken relationship. This is particularly important. It’s going to show you the path that you need to undertake in order to begin coming up with a plan to repair the relationship. Regardless of whether there is guilt involved or not, you need to make sure that you know where you stand so that you can move forward with getting the relationship thoroughly fixed. Think of this as building the foundations for your upcoming strategy.

2. Don’t let your ego stand in the way and apologize.

Regardless of whether you are the one who’s faulty of damaging the relationship or it was clearly something that the client did – you need to step up. Come forward, swallow your ego and offer a kind apology. This is particularly critical. The fact of the matter is that this is nothing but business and you can’t let emotions, let alone particularly unhealthy things like ego cloud your judgment and stand in the way of you and your clients. This isn’t your own private life so there is no place for ego or pride.

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3. Do not talk down to them.

This goes out to the majority of industries and especially to the recently outburst IT sector. The truth is that you are definitely more aware of what is it that you do than your client – that’s why he’s using your services. But you don’t need to point that out unless it is absolutely necessary. In fact, you should treat them with tremendous amount of respect and never approach them as people who don’t have an idea of what’s going on. That’s a sure deal-breaker and if your relationship is already damaged, that’s one of the cornerstones of your attempts of fixing it.

4. Respond in-kind and timely.

Another thing that gets quite a lot of client relationships on the wrong track is failure to communicate in a timely manner. Regardless of how many clients you have, every one of them should be your priority and if you want to properly fix the relationship with one that you’ve messed it up with, you need to put an emphasis on that fact. Do not delay your answers unless you have a good reason for it – communicate clearly and efficiently – that’s what the client wants. That’s what you should provide him with. You need to show your client that he is of high value to your company, regardless if he really is or not.

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5. Fix the real issue.

Sometimes the real issue might be hidden within a number of smaller yet particularly annoying details. Being able to clear your mind and seek out the main cause of the broken relationship is likely to be amongst the most important things that you have to take into account. With this in mind, if you manage to do that, you will definitely win back the trust of the customers for a few different reasons. One, you are definitively showing that you care about your relationship enough to fix the issue on your own and two, you manage to identify critical issues, regardless of how well they are hidden.

6. Acknowledge it when you aren’t right.

This is once again an issue which is tightly related with pride and ego. Once a business starts to run well and to perform properly, there is a very common problem: managers and owners begin to feel as if they are better than their customers. They fail to understand that the only reason for which they are capable of being in the position they are is because of the client in the first place. When you are wrong, you are wrong. Holding to a position out of stubbornness or pride and ego is something that is going to get you on the downhill with a tremendous amount of speed. Keep that in mind.

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Maintaining sound relationships with your customers is without a doubt a top priority. However, regardless of how hard you try, there are inevitable circumstances which are going to rough up the journey quite good. That’s when you need to stand stable on your feet, hold on to your policies and do whatever you can to place the wheels back on track.

Sometimes team involvement is inevitable even if it requires communication only with you, not the client. Review the project plan communicated with the client and gather input from every resource. (Handy Tip: For companies using Microsoft Project and Oracle Primavera P6 there are project viewing solutions – Project Viewer and PrimaveraReader, respectably to make sure anyone is allowed to view and analyze organizational change plans without purchasing costly licenses). I believe read only viewers for other project management software solutions are also available.

The most important thing that you need to understand is that the responsibility to mend your working relationships with clients is yours and yours alone. The client can go ahead and replace you with some other company because, let’s face it―the competition is fierce. Even though one client doesn’t make a firm, this might set the stage for more potential complications of the kind and that’s something that you just can’t have. That’s why you should try hard in order to fix every relationship which may have gone south. This way you can guarantee a sustainable business structure which is going to be successful for the long run.

Featured photo credit: ideationkings.com via pexels.com

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Zuhair Sharif

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Last Updated on April 17, 2019

10 Essential Soft Skills That Will Help Advance Your Career

10 Essential Soft Skills That Will Help Advance Your Career

What’s the secret of professional success? Some of it lies in the mastery of your discipline and all the technical skills you have to carry out your job; but a much bigger part lies in the soft skills list you possess.

Soft skills are your people or relationship skills—how well you get along with others and your ability to communicate and collaborate—as well as the personal characteristics you bring to the job, such as optimism, a can-do attitude and the motivation to work hard. These skills are not always easy to point out, but their absence can cause serious problems and negatively affect the whole work atmosphere.

They say that hard skills will help you get the job, but soft skills will help you get along—and get ahead. With that in mind, here’s the top-10 essential soft skills list to help you advance your career.

1. Communication Skills

Communication skills are hands-down the most sought-after soft skill that bosses want, and this one ability covers a lot of ground.

To communicate well, you have to listen carefully, interpret the context of the conversation, express yourself clearly, persuade others of your point of view, check your body language and use an engaging presentation style that won’t intimidate or bore your audience. That’s a big ask!

Your personality traits can influence the way you communicate with others. For instance, some people get straight to the point and center their arguments around facts and logic; others are cooperative and sensitive to how others feel. Both these approaches are equally valuable but there can be misunderstandings if you don’t understand where the other person is coming from.

Taking a comprehensive personality test can help you understand why you communicate the way you do and where your blind spots are. It can also help you understand other communication styles is so you can tailor your communication to the person you’re dealing with.

After all, connecting with your conversation partner is the hallmark of good communication.

2. Flexibility

Change is an essential part of any business. Companies need employees who are flexible enough to work with new initiatives, open to new ideas, and generally are able to tough it out when things don’t go as planned.

Research has found a link between job performance and flexibility over the long term because there will be times when you have to step outside your routine and rise to fresh challenges that didn’t exist before.

Being flexible doesn’t mean you have to hop into a new task or job role like an expert. Rather, it’s about showing you’re willing to accept new responsibility and learn different things.

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Bosses look for people who are prepared to step outside their comfort zones and are open to alternative solutions when their first idea doesn’t work.

3. Being a Team Player

Working on a team can be challenging but learning to do it well can definitely help you get ahead in your career. Employers look for people who can negotiate, cooperate and manage conflicts with other people to achieve a common goal. That includes the ability to build lasting relationships with customers and clients.

What makes a good team player? Essentially, it’s someone who knows the goal and knows her role. Employers look for evidence that you know your strengths, your responsibilities and how you can best contribute to the team, then put those skills into action by sharing ideas and communicating in a respectful manner. That’s the definition of being a good team player.

This is another area where taking a personality test can help you get ahead. When teams work together, each member brings a unique set of skills and qualities to the group. Research has shown that different combinations of personalities affect how teams collaborate and how productive they are.

Knowing who you are, and how you work on a team, can drive new insights and open the door to better teamwork.

4. Positive Mental Attitude

There are plenty of things you can’t change at work, like the people you work with or the fact that the printer is broken again. The one thing you can change is how much you let these things bother you.

Bosses like people who are calm, rational and upbeat—those who diffuse tensions in the workplace, not get all grouchy and go around slamming doors.

Studies show that people who maintain a sunny disposition have better relationships at work, are happier in their jobs and make better decisions than those who whine and complain. Some suggest that a positive mental attitude can also make you live longer—which means it’s beneficial for every area of your life![1]

It’s not always easy to keep a “glass half full” mentality when work is stressful and the deadlines are piling up. But there are some things you can do to help maintain a positive attitude. Laughing at your unfortunate circumstances keeps the work environment positive, and taking “sanity” breaks can help you keep your cool in high-pressure situations.

Managers look for positive mental attitude in a team member that is ready for a promotion, so it really does pay to keep your cool in challenging situations.

5. A Strong Work Ethic

People with a strong work ethic are committed to the role, persevere when things get tough and are inspired by challenge. These people are ambassadors for the organization, and will always be seen as top talent and ideal candidates.

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If you can exhibit this skill, then expect to be seen as a great candidate, eligible for new opportunities and positions throughout your career.

Since a strong work ethic can mean different things to different people, it helps to show specific examples of your exceptional work ethic during a performance appraisal or interview. For instance, you might talk about:

  • A time when you persisted in the face of challenges and did not shy away from hard work.
  • How you volunteered to help with projects even though these tasks did not form part of your job description.
  • The networking, workplace learning and skills betterment you’ve undertaken, which shows ambition and drive (people with a strong work ethic have those qualities in spades).
  • How you own your mistakes and never, ever point the finger of blame at others.

For help with building a strong work ethic, check out these tips: How to Build a Reliable Work Ethic

6. Public Speaking

Who’s terrified of public speaking? Pretty much everyone, since public speaking is America’s number one fear, ahead of death at number five and loneliness at number seven.

Yet, according to Warren Buffett, mastering this one skill you could increase your personal value by 50 percent.[2] That’s huge!

If you’re not natural at public speaking, you’re in good company. Buffett had to work hard to overcome his stage fright and once dropped out of a public-speaking course before it started—because he was afraid of public speaking! He eventually realized that he needed to build up his confidence by just doing it; over and over in front of small groups.

For a more structured approach, Toastmasters International teaches public speaking and leadership skills through a variety of pathways. Membership of this non-profit looks good on your resume but the real payoff will come when you can put your newfound skills to use on the job or in the interview room.

Or, you can check out this advice: The Ultimate Public Speaking Tips to Hook and Impress Any Audience

7. Integrity

From a manager’s point of view, the two integrity skills that will set you apart are:

  • Always doing what you say you will do
  • Owning an error instead of minimizing or hiding it

…even when no one is around to check up on you.

There are lots of people who have climbed the ladder without scruples, but they are not the people who others trust, respect and support when promotion time comes around.

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Behaving with integrity is a safe and consistent way to enhance your reputation and achieve your professional goals.

8. Managing Your Time

Phone calls, texts, Slack pings, meetings, huddles, side projects, multitasking—we are busier today than any generation before us. There’s no denying the workplace is an incredibly distracting place to be.

A lot of us have traded effectiveness for busyness which we wear as a badge of honor, both as a proxy for productivity and to show our value to the company. But what bosses want, what they really, really want, is someone who actually gets stuff done on time.

Time management is not merely the art of being on time, but of managing your time so you focus on the projects that really matter and add value to the business. This means prioritizing well, sticking to schedules, delegating, and not getting distracted by tasks that are easier to perform or less important. It means planning ahead and learning when it’s appropriate to say no.

Time management can be a tough skill to maintain, but not a difficult one to pick up. Monitor your actions for a few days—how long do your tasks take to finish? What’s interrupting you? What causes you to lose focus? Once you have the answers to these questions, you can set a schedule for yourself to make sure you’re spending your time wisely and this valuable asset is never wasted.

These 20 Quick Time Management Tips to Super Boost Your Productivity are also great to try.

9. Assertiveness

In any workplace, you typically will find people with the following conflict styles:

  • Passive: Those who go out of their way to avoid conflict.
  • Passive-aggressive: Those who express their negative feelings through actions rather than words.
  • Aggressive: Those who respond to conflict in a hostile and rude manner. These people get their opinion heard but they won’t make any friends in the process.
  • Assertive: People who stick up for their rights while still respecting the rights of others.

Managers look for assertiveness above all other styles because it allows decisions to be made without conflict or alienating people.

How do you use this information for yourself?

It starts with understanding your personality so you can anticipate how you will react when conflict arises and address your own shortcomings. Then, you can start influencing the team for top results, and securing your own career advancement in the process.

Learn how to be assertive and gain respect:

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How to Be Assertive and Stand up for Yourself the Smart Way

10. Creative Thinking

LinkedIn recently analyzed over 50,000 skills that employers search for when looking for candidates to find out what skills are currently in demand.[3] Taking the number-one slot on the 2019 soft skills list was creativity: the ability to solve problems and think outside the box.

Creativity is about bringing fresh, and sometimes unorthodox, ideas to the table. This helps companies to innovate, and companies that do not innovate will not survive very long.

How do you showcase your creative thinking skills? The golden rule is to participate.

Be brave and share your ideas during group brainstorming sessions. Volunteer to run a society, networking event or recruitment drive. Ask “what if” questions: “What if we add this information to the client welcome pack?” “What if we eliminate step 3 from the process?”

These activities demonstrate that you’re prepared to go beyond “business as usual” towards creative problem solving—an ability that will serve you every day, all throughout your career.

You can learn to unleash your creativity power:

What Is Creativity? We All Have It, and Need It

Final Thoughts

The good news? Every item on this soft skills list can be learned. Although you may feel lacking in certain areas, taking an inventory of your strengths and weaknesses will allow you to focus in on the areas that you’ll benefit from developing.

So take an inventory of your personality, skills, and talents. This will give you a baseline for your communication style, attitude to change, conscientiousness and more. You can then identify your weak areas and develop strategies for improving your team-building, assertiveness and conflict skills.

The better news? The effort is worth it. Developing your soft skills opens the door to a new job or a promotion, and helps you succeed once you get there.

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Featured photo credit: Rachael Gorjestani via unsplash.com

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