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Slide Notes

Every business owner has experienced that moment when things have gone horribly, horribly off-track.

Each time this has happened in my business, I've used the same pathway to get to a successful resolution... Adding and subtracting some things along the way, the Bad Client Situation Triage Toolkit was born.

Bad Client Situation Toolkit

Published on Nov 18, 2015

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PRESENTATION OUTLINE

BAD CLIENT SITUATION

10 QUESTION TRIAGE TOOLKIT
Every business owner has experienced that moment when things have gone horribly, horribly off-track.

Each time this has happened in my business, I've used the same pathway to get to a successful resolution... Adding and subtracting some things along the way, the Bad Client Situation Triage Toolkit was born.
Photo by williamhartz

WHAT HAPPENED?

Question 1:
Describe in as much detail as possible what a happened, why, when, and in reaction to what.

Blowups with clients don't occur in a vacuum. So your job is to describe in detail exactly what happened, to whom, and what the order of events was.

Don't try to find a root cause just yet.
Photo by Matito

WHAT WAS THE CAUSE?

Question 2:
Different problems are created from different causes. Expectation Violation is at the heart of MOST client difficulties.

In fact, failure to set your expectations up front (and set your client's expectations up front) will cause more problems than any other external factor in your business.
Photo by Beau B

CAUSES TO LOOK AT

Expectations, money, boundaries (ie: not respecting the weekend boundary), and miscommunications over jargon or common terminology - all are common causes of Bad Client Situations.

HOW DO/DID I HANDLE IT?

Question 3:
Did you react immediately?

Did you own up to the problem?

Did you lose your cool?

Did you make an overcorrection?

Did you understand why the client was upset before you tried to correct the problem?*

*this can save you boatloads of money

HOW DID IT MAKE ME FEEL?

Question 4:
If you don't account for your own feelings, you may end up resenting your client.

Do your feelings have merit or are you just overreacting?

Do you feel the same way after sleeping on it?

Do you have a way to deal with your feelings? Do you need to mention it to your client or can you proceed without that?

Is it worth damaging the relationship over?

APPROPRIATE?

QUESTION 5: WAS MY REACTION
If the client situation caused you to blow up, was it a worthwhile blow-up, or was it inappropriate?

Could you have reacted better?

Can you define goal posts for yourself to identify these feelings earlier and curb your reaction in the future?

If you "let 'em have it", was the fallout better, worse, or just what you were expecting?
Photo by aaronparecki

WHAT DID I LEARN?

QUESTION 6:
Failure is the best teacher you can ask for.

If you didn't learn something from a bad client situation, you weren't trying hard enough.

Document thoroughly.
Photo by Philippe Put

WHAT COULD I DO BETTER?

QUESTION 7:
When you're through documenting what you've learned, focus on areas of improvement.

Find signal posts where you can identify when each step in a difficult client situation occurs so you can be ready with a proper reaction next time.

Some bad client situations repeat, some are avoidable early on, and some are just random happenstance; knowing what to do in each case will be super helpful to your business health.

HAVE ANY WARNING SIGNS?

QUESTION 8: DOES THIS SITUATION
Signal posts, goal posts, warning signs - learn to spot them and how to search for them moving forward.
Photo by 96dpi

VENT AND REFRESH?

QUESTION 9: HOW WILL I
Baggage is a complicated thing - it's a great learning tool, but saddling your future clients with it can be a deal breaker.

Find a way to vent your frustrations (a focus group? an outing with friends?) and refresh yourself so you don't take your frustrations out on the wrong people.

THE NEXT STEP?

QUESTION 10: WHAT IS
Some clients aren't worth salvaging. Is this one?

Can you breathe life back into the relationship? Do you need to make up for an overreaction? Should you send an apology note? A thank you note?

Keep your cool, accept failure as a task, and move on to the next step.

SUGGESTED NEXT STEPS:

Here's a few next steps you can consider.

- Apologize (Say Sorry, for reals)
- Be more assertive (I write failures into my contracts as new line items to avoid)
- Thank your clients - especially the smooth sailing ones
- Build momentum for next time, failure isn't fatal

BONUS - HOW TO APOLOGIZE:

Honest Intent is a tricky principle. It basically means: just do your best to operate in good faith. Honest intent keeps you from being righteously angry - purposefully angry is a different beast, but righteous anger is often misplaced.

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