How to Have Hard Conversations with Your Clients
It is never pleasant to have to deliver bad news to a client, or to tell them something went wrong, or (and this is tough for so many) to ask them to pay you when they're late. Those are HARD conversations that no one wants to have. But if you're in business, you're going to have to face those ugly moments - and probably more than once! I don't like to have those conversations either! But I have 4 tips that have helped me navigate sticky situations with my clients. Give them a try!
1. Be Prepared
The best thing you can do is prepare for the conversation. Have all of your facts on had and be SURE you know exactly what happened. If a mistake has been made, or there's be a BIG hiccup in the project, have some solutions ready to present. You don't want to go into an awkward conversation, only to find out that you don't have the right info. You want all the paperwork and correspondence ready to go. That doesn't mean you're going to play the blame game - no one wants that. But you DO want to be sure you can back up any claims or points that are contested.
2. Be Honest and Clear
The absolute worst thing you can do is dance around the topic. That doesn't help the situation at all. Be completely honest and transparent - especially if YOU are the one at fault. Lay out the issue and define what you see as the next steps. And if the client owes you money, you need to be very very clear about what happens next, without getting emotional or angry. This earns you respect.
3. Meet In Person
These are NOT the types of conversations you should have through an email or a text (PLEASE don't text when angry or frustrated)! I know it's easier to just fire off what you want to say, but you need to buckle up, buttercup, and meet in person. That's what a strong CEO does. If you cannot meet in person, then at least pick up the phone. I promise you that your clients will respect you more if you sit down with them and go over whatever the challenge or issue is.
4. Listen to Them
A conversation is a two-way street, so even if you're in the right on whatever it is, you HAVE to listen to what they say. The most important thing is not to have a client drag your name through the mud in the future, so you want to handle these conversations with as little emotion and frustration as you can. You may learn something you didn't know about why something happened, or why they're having an issue. And you want to be respectful to them and their side of the story.
UGH - I know this is so hard and uncomfortable. To help you navigate through these conversations and issue, download my FREE Guide for How to Keep and Retain Clients! Good luck!