Difficult Clients and tips for dealing with them.

Difficult Clients and tips for dealing with them.

Difficult Clients and tips for dealing with them.So there you are happily going about your days work. Nice clients all day, on time polite, appreciative – then……. THE CLIENT FROM HELL!!! She arrives 20 minutes late, “the dog ate my car keys” she says or something equally lame! Then out come those hands! Three broken nails, the rest looking like the dog who ate her keys may have been gnawing on her fingers too. “You must have done something wrong, my nails look terrible” she says. What about the  client who sits and inspects each move you make? “aren’t you cutting too much cuticle”? “Don’t you need base coat on acrylic”? You all know these clients. Today we will try give some helpful tips and look into what makes a client so difficult.

Choices choices

We are all different and will react to situations in different ways. For example you may be the type who says “I ain’t buying, the dog ate your keys story and frankly I do not like your blaming my bad workmanship for the heap of S#!7 on the end of your hands”. Well if so I am here to tell you that you making a big mistake, you will probably lose a client and definitely have an unpleasant few hours with the client. You work in a service industry, the customer is always right! Even the difficult clients!

Why are they so difficult?

Generally, difficult or even angry clients are not expressing frustration with you. There emotions are tied to external situations and psychological input. Put your great communication skills to work, draw on your inner supergirl to attempt to read the actual situation. Some clients just do not care they pay money and therefore they are special and feel they should be treated as such. Do they realise how hard you work or how them being late impacts not only on you but all your other clients? Maybe but they just do not care. Don’t let it get you down ii is not worth it. Do though try and ensure this does not happen.

Dealing with them professionally

Difficult customers come in the various flavours, Angry, Impatient, Intimidating, Talkative, Demanding, Indecisive and the favourite bossy.

Initially please realise that you cannot control their behavior. Fortunately you have control only over your own actions. Certainly you can control, to a limited degree, how they respond to you. Angry customers require you to keep calm. Take a deep breathe and think of a cute puppy. Calmly ask what you can do to help? A leading question like this also assists in getting away quicker, from chatty, fussy and confused clients who would otherwise waste much of your time. never offer a solution such as a discount or credit until you have heard how the client believes the situation can be rectified.

Do though offer choices for example, “would you like to wait until I am finished with my current client?” or “would you like to speak to my boss?” etc. You need to maintain your own control. It is not helpful to argue with the client whilst they angry or complaining. You could easily lose a customer if you allow them to get to you.

Step 2

Never ever display boredom or irritation or worse disdain. allow them to rant and get whatever it is out their system. Listen I say again LISTEN. Tune in to them and do not try run away. look them in the eye and let them know you paying attention. Check your body language, looking at your phone or crossing your arms are negative body language signs. Repeating or paraphrasing what you hear is a great plan.

Step 3

Show how you care and how it concerns you. They will respond much better to how you say something than what you say. For example “ok whatever you want” is not as psychologically satisfying as ” I fully understand and lets do that”

Step 4

Blaming the difficult clients is not only unprofessional but a total waste of time. Even worse is blaming your company. When advising on company policy do your best to fully clarify what went wrong. Do so either indirectly for example ” I need to ask a few questions before refunding/redoing your manicure” or use ‘I’ statements such as “I need further information” wherever possible. Acknowledging wrong doing by you or your company is not necessary and worse could result a law suit.

Step 5

If you find yourself failing to keep cool why not ask one of your colleagues to help? Never say to difficult clients that there is nothing you can do before hearing all the facts and assessing the situation.

Step 6

Finally do not make promises you cannot keep. Telling the client you will get back to them as soon as possible is going to help you. It allows time to make a rational decision. it also allows them time to cool down.

Lay down ground rules?

It is a good idea to set out the rules as early as possible. Let your clients know from the beginning what you are responsible for and what you are not. How they should care for their manicure and what is going to cause problems. Never be shy to explain that fiddling with their hair or eating a greasy sandwich will potentially cause lifting. just be polite and honest. Let them know you expect to be treated with the same respect as do they.

About that respect!

You see if you yourself are late or disrespectful than your clients will see this and feel they can do the same. If a client is late and it will mean the next one waits for you, how will that feel for the client who arrived on time? They will think you are late and disrespectful! They will then never try be on time again and you have a vicious cycle! Up your own game before you expect your valuable, paying clients to reciprocate this respect.


Take a few hours to put everything in writing. Explain how you operate, what happens in event of cancellation, late arrival or no show. Detail how a manicure should be cared for. Include anything else you feel may be useful. At the beginning of the first appointment, go through the manual and get the client to sign that she understands the contents and agrees to abide by them.

The Tardy one

Establish strict guidelines for late customers for example “no client will be taken if more than 20 minutes late” Just put it as politely as possible and make sure it is in writing and handed to your client. Enforce these rules strictly or face abuse!

No show

Horrible when that happens isn’t it? Especially when they keep making appointments and keep not showing up. Again have a strictly enforced no show policy. Explain at the outset that a no show means you lose income and another client loses the opportunity to see you. Include a section in your manual, explain that if they don’t pitch they are liable for the cost of the appointment. Also make it very clear that 2 no shows = no more bookings! Do not feel bad to do that! What are you crazy? Did the client have the slightest remorse when not rocking up? Actually many times we are ourselves a little to blame for this situation. Let me explain. Techs often find that they too busy to confirm the following days appointments, they also not maintaining a strict no show policy. Finally they often just accept it happens. Don’t!!! If your client does not respect you and cares so little for you then do not just accept it. 9 times out of 10 clients will tow the line if the rules are properly explained. 1 out of 10 you will either lose or they will harm your business.

Reduce no shows even further

You never going to eliminate no shows altogether but you can limit this occurring. Do put the above into practice. It is worthwhile spending 30 minutes confirming that the clients are coming the next day. Call them, sms them just contact them.

It is strongly recommended that you look into investing a small monthly fee for some handy software, have a look at store vantage>> for example. It is cheaper than paying staff, complains less:))) and contacts your clients for you.

Establishing these types of boundaries early on will eliminate future unhappiness for both of you.  They cannot complain if they are aware of all this (or they can but you will have the high-ground for once). Why not let them have a signed written copy of your manual? They should not leave their first appointment with unreasonable expectations, this way nobody will be dissapointed later.

The scrutiniser

The type of difficult clients who gives orders and watches each move, commenting and complaining the entire time. “Don’t I need prep”, “surely you need to push my cuticle”, “I heard from my friend who is a nail tech that such and such is dangerous” etc etc! What to do with them?

Elizabeth Morris advise that, clients who attempt to run their appointment usually do so due to dissatisfaction resulting from bad past experiences at other salons.  It is possible to sort this by asking “what her concerns are?”  “Has she had a unpleasant experience with a previous tech?”  Ask “what is worrying her and why she is attempting to run the show, what does she think may happen if she does not take charge and issue instructions?” Try find out what she thinks may happen if she doesn’t speak up?  Once she has explained her actions, gently explain that you completely understand her past, but that you are her future.  Tell her that you are well trained, know exactly how to do the service and are here to make sure she receive the best service and result she has ever experienced.  Most times this chat will resolve these matters.

The impossibly difficult clients

Actually if you employ all the above tactics, you will be shocked to discover how few there actually are. Of course in rare cases it is best to simply have a quiet conversation and explain that much like a dentist or any other professional things just don’t always work out. Try calmly telling her that she may be better off elsewhere. As stated above this should be very rare if ever and usually as a result of a personality clash.

What if you are in fact to blame?

Inevitably you will make mistakes and clients will return with issues that are your fault. Remember again that you are in a service industry. Often it is not the fact that you make a mistake, we all human and everyone makes mistakes, it is rather how you handle them that will be remembered. It is not good practice to make a customer pay for your errors.

How to handle the mistake.

First of all if you realise you are to blame or even partially to blame, apologise. It is pointless to try blame the client and will lose you a client and probably gain you a lot of unwanted social network publicity. Ultimately how you apologise, will dictate if in the end you turn this into a positive experience for your client. The fact that you have apologised will indeed go a long way towards achieving this positive outcome. Always be honest, explain that you made a mistake and that it will not happen again. It is not necessary to go into too much detail. Going into too much detail may complicate matters even further! Clients appreciate honesty and probably will wonder, if it is possible you never make an error. Once again blaming your products will not help. They will wonder why you use a product that does not work?

Redo the work and NEVER EVER charge for it.This is not only bad for your reputation but also extremely unprofessional. it is  not required to refund or give free products but you may anyway want to give a small gift for the clients wasted time. Last word on this, consider offering a refund for petrol money. It is a simple gesture and don’t forget you messed up not the client. All this may cost you in the end but it will keep a client and retain your reputation. Most importantly you will never make that same mistake again!

To conclude

Clients’ behavior stems from somewhere, so identifying the source of the problem works a lot better than just getting annoyed. Control yourself, make sure you are on time and respectful before attempting to move on. Even if it means going out the room for a moment. Love what you do and accept that with anything worthwhile doing there will always be trials and tests and…….horrible, difficult clients.

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