Thursday, November 26th, 2020

What To Do When Clients Tick You Off!

By Lisa Sansom on Jun 20 2011 • Filed under Business

When Clients Tick you off. (Photo)

Once again, a client has failed to live up to my expectations and it has moved me to write this article. As a positive psychology coach, consultant and practitioner, I always feel “wrong” complaining about my clients and their behaviour. I mean, shouldn’t I be able to look on the bright side of things? Shouldn’t I be able to move on with fortitude and resilience? In the ideal world, yes – I do try to embody the essence of my work. But I am only human, like my clients, and so I share with you two recent pet peeves about my clients, and what I am going to be doing about it.

Pet Peeve #1:

Using Email as a Synchronous Mode of Communication

Ah, email – our friend and enemy. Truly, the word “frenemy” was coined for thee. I love email most of the time. It’s a great way to reach out and connect with people in my community. I am able to stay in touch with people at a great distance, and collaborate on projects that otherwise wouldn’t be possible.

However, I would like to advise all of my clients that email is an asynchronous method of communication. What does that mean? It means that when you are composing and sending the email, it may be several minutes, hours, or even days before I get to it. Gasp, shock and horror! – I don’t get your email as soon as it arrives. And sometimes, due to the vagaries of the world wide web and the wires and satellites that bind us together, it doesn’t arrive at all.

So if there is something important or timely (read: less than 24 hours’ notice), please phone. Please talk to me in person. And if time zones don’t allow for it, at least leave a voice message AND an email. And if I don’t get either of those, at least you tried rather than assuming that an email would get through and be seen. One time that I remember vividly, a client sent me an email at 6 a.m. to cancel a 9 a.m. face-to-face in-the-office meeting. I don’t check email much before 9 a.m. and I certainly don’t check email when I’m on the road, rushing to be on time for a 9 a.m. meeting. A phone call would have been much more appropriate.

Pet Peeve #2:

Not Doing What You Said You Would Do

Accountability is a big value of mine – do what you said you would do, when you said you would do it, or else be accountable and responsible enough to say why you did not. Life happens, and as a coach, I know quite well that unexpected things pop up. But please let me know (see Pet Peeve #1 above for how to let me know).

So when you said that the project would be over in 2009, and here we are in 2011 without any discernable end in sight, no formal sign-off and – if I may cut to the bottom line – no final disbursement of payment for my services, well something has seriously gone off-kilter. I’d kind of like to know about it. And please don’t ignore my emails and phone messages asking what’s going on. We had an agreement. If I haven’t upheld my part, please tell me – but it looks pretty clear to me that your part has sunk too.

So what am I doing about it?

These are only my top two peeves this week. I could go on and I’m sure you have your own stories to tell as well. But the real question is – what are you going to do about it?

I am taking a good hard look at myself. What are my own business practices? Am I misusing email? Am I afraid to pick up the phone and talk voice-to-voice in urgent situations? Am I being clear on expectations of myself and what I can deliver? Am I communicating well when I over-promise or life gets in the way?

While occasionally we do take on bum clients, and we learn from those situations, I do believe that, as business owners, we have a great responsibility to model the behaviour we are seeking from our clients. We work with them to help them improve and grow whatever needs improving and growing. We need to start by examining our own person and our own business. If we conduct business with integrity and act accordingly, our clients may learn just as much from our modelling as they do from our paid services.

And that, my business friends, brings about not only repeat business, but better clients in the future. What are your pet peeves and what are you doing about it?

1 Comment

  1. Pet Peeves are all about me and me. The world is an out-picturing of what is happening inside me.
    As I shift inside me, I attract different kinds of clients. Some of this has to do with what I am willing to tolerate.
    The less I tolerate within me and in my world, the more quality of a life I have and the kind of clients that I love to
    work with show up. I also do not take every one on as a client. We are not always a fit and if not, I refer them to someone
    that would work well with them.

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