Relationships have the potential to bring life, joy, hope, humor, and fulfillment, whether that be with family, friends, or business clients. They can also be one of the most difficult parts of life. The unique client relationships that develop can bring about unique problems. Most events you’re a part of are special, once-in-a-lifetime events. With that much pressure and trust involved, issues can easily arise. Knowing how to deal with difficult clients is necessary to be successful in the entertainment industry. Here are a few tips to help you navigate those situations.
Always ask, what’s really going on?
Every difficult client has a reason behind their behavior. Oftentimes, that reason has nothing to do with you. There’s a good chance they’re grappling with stress around the event or perhaps it’s an unrelated issue altogether. When you find yourself in situations like these, put yourself in your client’s shoes and ask, “What could be going on in their life?”
You’ll probably never know the answer to that question, but it demonstrates how much you care. Showing empathy to an upset client is always the first step to take. You may be surprised how quickly an issue is diffused simply by listening.
Kindness goes a long way.
Whatever you do, don’t retaliate with anger. When someone is raising their voice or sending seemingly rude messages, the worst thing you can do is respond in the same way. Remember to take a deep breath, stay calm, and listen. Your clients are your customers, and although you won’t always see eye to eye, it’s important to remember that this is their event and their memories.
Express to the client that you understand their frustrations and needs. If you’re responding in writing, make sure that your messages come across as kind. It’s always a good practice to communicate with respect, no matter what situation you’re dealing with.
Clear communication can prevent most problems.
Most issues can be stopped before they begin. Communicating clearly with clients throughout the entire booking process can keep problems at bay. Be available and quick to respond to questions, and make sure all expectations are entirely understood.
It’s a good practice to set reminders for yourself to reach out. To avoid problems, be proactive and plan to contact the client a few weeks as well as a few days prior to the gig. Showing that you’re organized and on top of things will offer relief to clients who may be prone to worry.
Remember to stay humble.
Sometimes, mistakes happen. We all mess up. When a problem is caused by your own doing, the best thing to do is own it. Be honest and take responsibility. Don’t let ego and pride get in the way. If a disgruntled client leaves a poor review, take it as an opportunity to show how you rectified the situation. People are usually quick to forgive when confronted with humility and honesty, and that shows other potential clients your character.
Be honest about your capabilities.
Is the client making unreasonable requests? Be honest with them, but be respectful. Sometimes a difficult client may not understand what’s being communicated or simply has unrealistic expectations. Ask questions to get to the bottom of the issue. They may need some sound advice or direction, and who better to offer it than an expert like yourself!
Knowing how to deal with a difficult client could mean saving a relationship that may lead to years of gigs and opportunities. Make sure you’re doing everything you can to cultivate that relationship, and be mindful of how you’re speaking with them. You can be the greatest magician, songwriter, or face painter in the world, but if you don’t know how to deal with people, you’re limiting your potential.
As Jerry Weintraub, entertainment industry guru and John Denver’s personal manager, once said,
“Relationships are the only thing that matter in business, in life.”