Virtual Assistants: 5 ways to deal with tough customers and avoid confrontation
What’s a tough customer, what makes them tough? How can you deal with them and avoid a confrontational conversation?
But is confrontation always a bad thing if it lets you get things off your chest and out in the open?
The Virtual Assistants in my support group came up with these real examples of potentially confrontational situations.
Confrontation 1 – The invoice you sent me is more than I expected
This sounds to me like a misinterpretation or misunderstanding.
Let’s suppose your customer requested a two-hour meeting. You travelled to visit them, and your journey took one hour each way. That’s two hours when you can’t be doing work for anyone else. Then there’s the cost of mileage.
What did you originally agree about travel time and is it reflected in your contract? Did you charge that time at your usual hourly rate? What if the travelling time is out of core hours?
When you track your time, you get to know how much planning time you need for each task which is going to be important when pricing your work. Overlooking the invisible details costs money.
Confrontation 2 – my customer has not paid my invoicE
The biggest problem here is avoidance. Sometimes sit and wait but leave it too late and too long to pick up the phone. By this time, we’ve convinced ourselves the conversation is going to be confrontational.
If you can change your mindset, you can turn it into constructive conversation for both of you. Make it into a catch-up conversation to build the relationship with your customer.
There’s always a reason someone isn’t paying you – when your customers don’t pay you on time there’s something wrong. Maybe they forgot. In which case, you have an excellent opportunity to offer more of your Virtual Assistant services.
Don’t jump to conclusions. Check your invoice too. Did it include all the right information?
You don’t have to detail all your terms on your invoice, but you can always refer customers back to the contract they signed.
Confrontation 3 – my customer says I missed the deadline
Stay clear and calm. The main thing here is to let your client speak, understand the situation and always deal with the facts.
It may not be your fault. Perhaps you didn’t have the information you needed to complete the task. In which case, you need to be firm and say because you did not get this to me on time, I cannot complete this work by such a date.
Taking this approach will help your customer realise their commitment to you. Who has control of your relationship?
Did you miss a deadline? What to do if it happens to you.
Confrontation 4 – my customer says HE DOESN’T NEED A CONTRACT
The bottom line here is a Virtual Assistant just cannot allow this to happen.
What if the customer isn’t clear about what he wants and you suspect he will change the scope of work. You could end up doing a lot of work and not getting paid.
“All the little things that you talk about with a new customer may quickly be forgotten, if you have written terms and conditions, everyone understands what’s expected and how they will work together.
Don’t be tempted to take on the work because if a client does not accept a contract or written agreement, walk away.
If your customer isn’t happy with your terms and conditions, consider if they’re actually the right customer for you.”
Confrontation 5 – the client expects me to be available all the time
Instead of venting your frustration with your friends or family, address the situation now.
Pick up the phone and begin by asking for feedback. It’s a good way to start a conversation about expectations and to review your original agreement.
Make notes on what adjustments or changes are needed and confirm your conversation back to the customer.
As a Virtual Assistant, you can’t plan your time if you don’t know when your client needs you to work. In this case, it may be time to talk about changing to a retainer package or should you be asking for payment up front?
Refer to the terms you originally agreed and get them to approve the changes.
Help! – Can I update my existing terms?
Yes. You can, and if you’d like to talk about how you can do this just book a free 15-minute phone call with me.
If you’d like to learn more about contracts and getting paid, I have an entire library of videos to help.