Bad Blood: The Struggle with Crusty Clients

So I’m slightly jaded as I type this. And forgive me, it’s been a rough week for this guy though on a Juby note, her health has been thriving of late. Let the record stand my perspective has not fully waned.

As for this post, the intent is not to vent but to gauge a social braintrust – to inquire your perceptions to fill in where mine may be off.

I don’t need to be so specific as to why I’m discouraged; however, I will say as long as I’ve been a professional, I’ve been a firm believer the client is not always right. In fact, I’ll just say it: For most customers I deal with, they are misinformed/uninformed, ill-equipped…or some variation either at the point of requesting assistance or at another within their contract journey. It’s not only one of the reasons why client care is so valuable..but also why I enjoy providing timely solutions, calibrating expectations, and championing concerns.

But every now and then, bad eggs come to town, sometimes out of leftfield…and ‘warpath’/smear-campaign you into the ground…all because their way was not ‘the’ way…at the end of the day. If only everyone could speak from a level head in the heat of a disagreement or blood boil (*sarcasm*).

*Sigh*

As a proud Client Success Manager, I take pride in what I do, ensuring clients understand the parameters behind the principles they’ve agreed to. After all, it’s one thing for companies to have products and processes; it’s even more for them to have principles and parameters to accommodate. True, the policing is not…how to do I say it…fun; however, it’s part of the job security and necessity to promote healthy workflow and streamline.

‘Tis why as an ‘air traffic controller’ of the client experience, as a ‘relationship manager’, I relish the opportunity to keep the big picture in mind as I maximize my reach in the moment…granted, it’s a delicate tightrope act requiring a daily assessment of goals, targets, and time-management tactics.

Yet, what can you do when the abusive bully persona hits your line, blows up your e-mail…and there’s no way out? Either you acquiesce to the client and dilute your company’s customer service philosophy or stand your ground communicating professionally to the tune of BBB threats and negative reviews. Hence, why in some situations, you just can’t win, try as you may be with reason, and why so many 5-star organizations carry 4-4.5 star averages on review-based platforms.

But back to my point: In fewer words, Iā€™m struggling to justify the ‘customer is always right’ rationale. For one thing, Selfridge never intended the phrase be taken literally. Yet, more importantly, if we abide by this motto, not only do we forfeit our ability to lead from empathy and react from fear but we also empower the most illogical expectation, minimizing our help from the hands on to the signed fine print behind it.

Again, these are raw thoughts I’m probing this week. I’m not citing any of this as gospel truth. Rather, I’m calling what resonates to the surface for the sake of unifying our mentality. In most that we do, regardless of our profession, we deal with many people through many interactions. And if there’s any shade of client care in your position, more power to you given the amount of misdirected pointed fingers can be overwhelming sometimes.

That said…

…this is where we must also see our opportunity to reflect the heart of service: To inspire direction, goodwill, and accountability into the voids we encounter.

Take it from one who has learned over time: Quality client care is not based in an ability to bend over backwards to appease but in a commitment to respond and listen in a way that bridges need with best practice.

The fact I don’t cater to out-of-bound demands does not, in any way, imply I don’t have the client’s best interest in mine. Because again, my goal, is to facilitate and foster success by outlining next best steps, making them known, and encouraging confidence into the customer’s decision-making. God at the core, that is the foundation I work on. God in my midst, that is the foundation I work in.

To the word curses of the week, consider the dust off my sandals…

…or out of my shoes in this case.

Selah.

Cover photo creds: PCC The High Road