Dealing With Difficult Customers

There is a good chance that you have had to deal with a difficult client. Difficult clients often blame you for problems that are out of your control. It happens all the time. It’s the nature of the business in which you compete. However, your response is everything, and a good response can be the difference between a good upset client and a bad one.

Many MSP leaders can turn an upset client into an asset, and while we do not promise that it will be easy, it could certainly be worth it. We know that your time is valuable. Balancing out the time you spend on your clients’ accounts can be a challenge, so it is important to diffuse situations like this as quickly as possible.

Of course, you did not do anything on purpose to upset your client; you do your best to please your clients and address their needs. However, sometimes you just cannot please everyone. One mistake from your MSP can result in your clients feeling emotions that can range from mild to furious, and many clients become furious about a mistake they feel inconveniences them.

Sometimes angry people say some things that can be difficult to handle, especially if you are stressed by the current situation. For some MSP leaders, it can be difficult to curb the tendency to get upset when someone is yelling at you. However, once you curb your tendency to do so, it can be much easier to listen to your client’s issues and their emotions. This may be one of the keys to helping you identify things that need your attention, as resolving the actual issue might only be a small part of the problem.

How To Deal With Difficult Users

One of the greatest components of effective customer service is knowing how to deal with difficult clients. Here are a few suggestions for doing this successfully:

Continue tackling the problem

Avoiding problems can certainly make things worse. Many MSP leaders feel it is best to confront problems head-on, and the sooner the better.

Try not to take it personally

It is important to keep in mind when a client becomes difficult by yelling and using profane language. It is not always a personal assault. Many clients are upset at the current situation and not you.

Continue to listen

When talking to a client that has become difficult, some MSP leaders feel it is best to let the client continue talking before they begin to speak. It can be easy for MSP leaders to take a defensive standpoint and interrupt the client while they are still talking. Interrupting the client while they are venting can certainly make the situation worse.

Do not make excuses

Your clients do not want to hear any excuses when they are faced with a difficult issue. Clients want to know that you are going to tackle the problem and that you are going to take care of it.

Remind them you are there to help them

When a client is talking to you about a problem, remind them that you care and understand where they are coming from.  Let your clients know that their problems and concerns are your problems and concerns. If you can relate to your clients, this will go a long way towards building a strong and long-lasting relationship.

What Do MSP Leaders Have To Say?

We consulted several MSP leaders on an online forum about what they do when it comes to dealing with difficult users, and here is a glimpse of a few responses:

”It depends on what they were being difficult about really. In cases where they are breaking your best practices, you can agree then put something in front of them to sign that they accept the risk. That will usually get some ‘oh wait’ reactions. If it’s just treatment of the staff in general.

”I tell my techs to escalate to me when this kind of situation happens. I take the matter at their point of contact/owner and tell them we can’t work like this. It failed twice and we terminated the customer’s contract with a 2 months notice. It wasn’t our biggest customer, but remember if they’re big, what you’re doing for them is equally big. Changing MSPs isn’t a walk in the park from the customer’s point of view.” 

”This is the MSP world, but it hasn’t always been this way. When IT became impossible to be a 1-2 man operation for most companies, a lot of people shifted to MSPs, hence the growth. With that, has come a whole new world of very tech unsavvy people, and companies who outsource IT. I don’t think most people in management have any idea how bad it is for engineers at most MSPs.”

”One chance with profanity and aggressive behavior. The customer gets a warning and if they continue, the tech is permitted to end the call and note the reason in the ticket. The customer’s manager is then notified, including ticket notes, and that a warning was given. When the customer calls back, the call is routed to the most senior on duty and they are told of the notification which went to their manager.”

Anybody who has run an MSP business will recognize and understand these frustrations. Most of your clients love working with you and they appreciate your business and the value that you bring, but some of them don’t get it. Some of them can be miserable to work with. They refuse to follow your processes or they don’t adopt your standards. These are the clients that can make it hard to scale an MSP.

While some MSPs may resort to letting these clients walk, it doesn’t get to the bottom of the problem. On the other hand, some MSPs will just try to wait it out and hope for the best. A recommended solution is to have a conversation with your client at a time when there are no issues and they are not being difficult. ”An owner-to-owner conversation can be effective, connecting treatment of your staff to their professionalism and treatment of their own staff”, said one forum user.

Understanding how to handle difficult clients is a must for any MSP leader. Taking the time to understand every side of the story can alleviate some of the issues your clients are facing while giving you more freedom.