How To Deal With A Difficult Client As a Registered Holistic Nutritionist
Most of us growing up have had the pleasure of working in either the service industry or in retail.
It paved the way for us to move into more interesting roles, and it paid our way through college, or perhaps leaving home for the first time and finding our own independence.
However, at some point, many people come to realize what they want to do with their lives, and they go to school to study for it – enter the Edison Institute of Nutrition.
We help Canadians and students from around the world to leverage their love for nutrition, food, and biology to help other people.
However, it’s never enough nowadays to simply study a skill – you also need to apply it to a career.
That’s why at Edison, we offer a business course for registered holistic nutritionists – so that they can truly succeed in the career they love.
First, How Do You Recognize A Difficult Client?
The key to working successfully with a difficult client is to be able to recognize them before the matter escalates.
If you can spot them early on, you’ll be able to control how your conversation goes, and hopefully steer it in a productive direction from that outset.
A “difficult client” is often a euphemism for a ‘complainer’ or a ‘deal-seeker’ or something else.
However, this does them a disservice and you a discredit – because the real issue is usually something far more human, and this is what truly needs to be addressed.
Here are some ways to identify them:
• Do they tell you how simple it is to do exactly as they demand, while seeking customization for every service you provide, robbing you of your efficient systems and processes?
• Is everything an emergency, or they expect a turn-around time that is unreasonable and not considerate of your other clients?
• Does your client need to take time to consider every recommendation you make, and frequently have to weigh in with friends, family or colleagues who ‘know what they’re talking about’?
• Do they treat your staff or colleagues like garbage, including yelling over the phone or in person over everything?
• Do they read the fine print in your contracts and service offerings to take advantage of every loophole, including abusing promotions and offers?
• Do they call you out for aspects of your job and tell you how you should do it, whether in private or in front of others?
If one of these sounds familiar, you may have a difficult customer that needs your attention.
Next, How Do You Deal With Them?
Well, the truth is that each one of these client types may need their own approach.
However, there are some good overall standards that you can start with, while you figure out what tactics work best for you and your customer service style.
Let’s have a look at some of the most important ones.
1. Above All Else, Stay Calm
They say that we are a mirror for each other, so if you portray calm and the most ease you can muster, then you will likely have a calming effect on them.
This one can be difficult when facing down a yeller, but the other option – matching THEIR tone – will only lead to defeat.
When someone starts yelling, it’s most likely because they feel vulnerable and hurt.
If you remember that, it will be easier to keep yourself calm.
Do this until they start to unconsciously mirror your demeanor, and you can begin to have a productive conversation.
2. Honestly Listen To Their Issues
Next up – no matter how your conversation with your disgruntled client started – get into the headspace of listening to what they’re saying.
Be sure not to come in with preconceptions or defensiveness, as this will undermine the intent to truly hear them.
Their displeasure is valid, because it is something that they are experiencing.
As the professional, it is up to you to help identify where there issue stems from.
However, if you do listen actively, earnestly, and honestly, people have a tendency to respond positively; everyone wants to be heard.
3. Try To Understand What Happened
Now that you’ve listened to them, try to understand it from their perspective.
It’s highly likely that you had no intention to cause them any discomfort, so their displeasure may not be personal at all.
However, something you did or said may have unintentionally lead to this issue – so take responsibility for that.
Being willing to simply say ‘I apologize’ does a lot to diffuse anger and can help a client to meet you half way.
4. Make Sure You Offer A Solution
Be ready to fix their problem for them.
It’s good to calm them down, listen, and apologize, but if you don’t rectify the situation for them, then you’re only invalidating your actions to that point.
Even better, you may have a couple of different solutions that you can offer them a choice of.
The best solutions will come out of the listening, proving that you actively heard their pain and their complaints.
The right solution will come from a place of you understanding what they are feeling, being able to put yourself in their shoes, and seeing what they would want done to fix the situation.
5. Learn From Your Experience
These customers offer you invaluable insight into your approach to your business and to your clients.
Although it might be difficult in the moment – you should thank them for being willing to broach a difficult subject with you so that you can be aware of it and also fix it.
Without vocal clients, you could end up never knowing what you did wrong.
Like any other successful business owner, you will have to iterate your approach until you’re able to avoid most issues.
However, there is a limit, as well – sometimes a client type is not a good fit for your business, and it’s important to learn that too.
When a client is not a good fit, it’s beneficial to identify that early on and then steer them or refer them to a better option before your relationship goes south.
Contact The Edison Institute Of Nutrition
There are many different challenges may will await you in your role as a holistic nutritionist, and the Edison Institute of Nutrition will help you overcome many of them.
Our graduates almost exclusively enjoy long, happy careers helping many different people achieve health through diet.
Contact us at the Edison Institute of Nutrition to learn more about what’s entailed and to help understand if it’s the right move for you.