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by John Bonini John Bonini on January 23, 2013

The 7 Things Your Clients Never Want to Hear

January 23, 2013

Screen Shot 2013-02-08 at 9.39.51 PMMuch like any romantic relationship, everything can be going great with your clients, however, all it takes is one bonehead comment to get relegated to the couch, or worse yet, have all your belongings tossed out onto the street.

Your fortunes can change in an instant. It can be tough navigating any type of relationship when you're not sure what others want to hear.

But what if you knew all the right things to say? Or more appropriately, the things not to say in order to keep everyone happy?

Not only would it keep your relationships and partnerships strong and healthy, but it would also let people know that you knew what the heck you were doing.

Clients or customers are no different. Things can be going great, but they can sour in a minute if you're saying all the wrong things. Or even worse, you can take an already rocky client relationship and send it right to the point of no return.

To help you avoid this, we've put together a list of seven things your clients never want to hear.

7 Things Your Clients Never Want to Hear

1. Excuses

I'm sure things have been crazy. You've been busy. Three of your guys are out sick with the flu.

Here's the thing; your clients don't care.

The harsh reality is your clients don't want to hear about your problems, they want you to solve theirs. And constantly stating your own problems does two things:

  1. Makes excuses
  2. Puts your own interests ahead of your clients

You should never be creating or using excuses to calm a frustrated client. We get it, internet was down. The new desks came in and interrupted business. But clients hate hearing excuses.

Instead, be honest. Simply state that you dropped the ball, apologize, and provide a solution for getting back on track. Mistakes happen. However, you can't move on from them if you're constantly hiding behind them.

Own up to it. Apologize. Offer a solution. And move on.

2. Let me get back to you on that

This one carries a few exceptions.

Sometimes there are instances with third party software or products where you would better serve your client to look into the issue to provide a definitive answer. However, if this route is taken, provide an approximate time for a return call.

Ex: "Let me get on the phone with the vendor, I'll get back to you in 30 minutes with an answer."

However, if you're using "let me get back to you" to simply bailout and collect your thoughts, you're obviously unprepared. And your client knows this. There's nothing more frustrating to a client than to feel as if your service provider is searching for answers.

You're the professional. You're the expert. You're supposed to be providing the answers.

Your client has called you with an urgent problem. The last thing they want is to feel shoved aside while their problem persists.

3. No answers

No one likes hearing, "I don't know." However, that's so glaringly obvious that I didn't even include it on this list.

Even worse than I don't know is dead air. Nothing screams "I'm lost" than silence or extended hesitation on your end of the phone. Clients are looking for one thing; a positive interaction.

Don't create problems with no answers or "I don't knows."

Create solutions. Do what you have to do to provide an answer. Briefly place them hold while you ask someone who can provide an answer. The important thing is avoiding letting your clients hang up without an answer. This goes back to #2, avoid "let me get back to you on that."

4. This should work...

Oh, really?

That's awesome. I just spent upwards of $800 dollars to correct that grinding and shaking in my car, and you just let me know that "this should fix it?"

Again, provide your clients with a positive experience. You're the expert. If you're unsure you solved their problem, they'll find someone else who can do it definitively next time.

"I'm confident we solved your problem. If for some reason you experience any other problems, let me know and we'll have it taken care of immediately."

Let your clients know you have their back. Obviously problems aren't always solved on the first shot. The important thing is working with customers and clients when they're not, and ensuring that it's a fair exchange for both parties.

5. A deadline cannot be met

Know your deadline prior to communicating that with a client.

This means that before you talk deadlines with a client, talk to your team first. Allocate the time and resources and develop a realistic deadline that you're confident you can meet.

Avoid setting deadlines on the fly. This is a recipe for disaster. Clients will hold you to it and be extremely frustrated when you're not meeting them.

And in the event that a deadline is missed – which will happen at some point – the way you handle it is critical in keeping the client happy moving forward.

Don't throw your team under the bus. This is a lame excuse that offers no solution. Again, don't create problems. Provide solutions.

"I apologize for the delay, we've got our guys on it now and we'll have it ready as quickly as possible."

Keep the lines of communication open. As long as you're communicating to them throughout the entire process, things will go a lot smoother and everyone blood pressure stay low.

6. That's not my job

Perhaps not. But it is your job to help solve your clients problems and keep them satisfied.

So if a client or customers is directing questions at you that are out of your realm of expertise, instead of deflecting, offer to direct them to the right place.

"I'm actually going to direct you over to Tom, he's our web design expert and can help you with everything you need."

Again, I'm beating a dead horse; but provide solutions, not more problems.

7. We can't do that/It's against our policy

Is there anything clients hate hearing more than the word "can't?"

Doubtful.

They're looking for a more positive outlook.

Equally as frustrating is hearing that "it's against our policy."

Now you've just created more problems for your client. Once again, provide the solution.

"While that is normally against policy, I'm going to see what I can do to get you taken care of."

A little assurance goes a long way when it comes to keeping your clients happy.

John Bonini

John Bonini

John is the Marketing Director at IMPACT, responsible for the overall marketing and branding strategy. He also writes for the HubSpot Blog, Social Media Examiner, and Convince & Convert among others. He enjoys playing guitar, high-fives, and anything with marinara sauce.

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