How This One Thing Can Destroy a Client Relationship

Tales from the Online Marketing Crypt #18

Why being mindful of clients’ perspectives can keep them supporting your business

We all have them.

Days when everything pisses us off.

In fact, I doubt there’s a human being on this planet who hasn’t been in a bad mood every now and then.

I know I sure have my fair share of them!

And for a variety of reasons too.

But there’s one thing we business owners have an unwritten rule about (well probably it’s written somewhere by someone) is that no matter what, we don’t bring our bad mood with us when communicating with clients.

Would you agree with that fundamental principle?

But how many times have you, as a client or customer, been on the receiving end of someone’s bad mood?

It happened to me recently and that single instance literally destroyed a 30 year working relationship.

I had a hair appointment with the same gal that I’ve been seeing for decades. She works out of her home and lives about 25 minutes away from me.

I know exactly how long it takes for me to get to her place and am typically on time, every time.

Except the last two appointments.

The time previous to this last visit, I had an emergency come up just before heading out the door. It was something I had to take care of or faced dire consequences (as in having a very angry client on my hands!)

It meant I was going to be about 5 minutes late for my appointment. I texted her when I was leaving stating I was hurrying over and will be a few minutes late.

She didn’t reply and never said anything when I got there. We had our usual girl talk that I very much looked forward to.

This recent time I needed to do a quick errand before my appointment. I completely misjudged how much time it would take me to get from that other location to my stylist’s place. Plus… I got lost finding my way there since I was coming from a different direction.

I didn’t want to risk taking any time to stop and text her and honestly thought I was just a minute away… except it was more like 15 minutes before I finally got there.

I’ve never been 15 minutes late for anything and I felt terrible. I apologized profusely but unfortunately, she wouldn’t hear any of it.

She was pissed.

So angry in fact, she first lectured me on “always” being late, citing my text from the previous appointment, and that she was sick and tired of constantly hearing, “sorry I’m late” as if I’m the only one that says that every time I walk into her room.

Disclaimer: I’m a Canadian. We apologize for everything, even if we’re 1 minute late!

Stunned at how mad she was, especially knowing I was the last appointment of the day, I apologized again and tried to explain why I was late and even offered to leave with my hair wet to make up for the lateness so we would still end in time.

I didn’t know what else to do to rectify my error.

She was so angry, she gave me the silent treatment and only grunted her “hold your head here” and “move to the sink” commands throughout the entire time there.

I did leave with wet hair, 15 minutes earlier than what our appointment time would have ended at had I been on time, vowing to never return again.

I fully realize I was the catalyst that set off her anger, and I also realize she had to have been having one helluva a bad day before I arrived, and I got the brunt of her wrath.

I get it.

But as a customer, a loyal one for 30 years at that, there’s no excuse whatsoever to be treated like that.

Never.

When I have bad days like what she must have experienced, I set aside whatever is going on and treat anyone who I speak with that day, whether it’s one of our team members, a client, a lead or even chatting on social media, with the utmost respect and kindness.

Even if they are the reason for my having a bad day.

It serves no purpose whatsoever to make the other person feel worse than what I am feeling.

I found this experience to be so distressing, I posted about it on Facebook.

I received a variety of responses, ranging from my owing her an apology (which I did) to justifying why she blew up, right over to demanding I fire her on the spot (which I ended up doing).

These kinds of responses go to show how we are all human and all look at experiences from our own lens and past history.

For me, I was taken straight back to elementary school when I was the victim of bullying quite a bit. A feeling I never want to experience again!

For others, they empathized with her where time is very important to them and get angry themselves when someone disrespects it. (I’m actually the same way – being punctual is a huge deal for me.)

One thing I have done as a result of this experience is to find the lesson behind it all. For one, I will definitely plan my time better and ensure I give myself enough time to do what needs to be done in time!

I also learned just how fragile our relationships can be.

She lost a client of 30 years – and I lost any further opportunities to visit with someone I’ve known a long time to get some of the much valued girl time I look forward to with each visit.

It doesn’t take much to destroy a 30 year working relationship.

Yes I realize I could reach out and try to mend the fences but I am choosing not to. At least not right now.

At the end of the day, this lesson goes to show how important it is for us all to keep our anger in check. To realize our anger is being received by the other person, and be aware of how they are receiving it with their own personal response. They won’t always understand where you are coming from because they’re looking at things from a different perspective.

So what do we do when we’re having a bad day and business must go on?

If you ever find yourself feeling angry, whether justified or not, here’s eight tips on what you can do to avoid creating irreparable situations with your clients:

Exercise. Go for a walk, head to the gym, box with a punching bag. Whatever works for you to do some venting.
Meditate. Or just sit quietly and practice deep breathing.
Yoga. Nothing is better at centering our emotions and getting back in touch with our bodies than practicing yoga.
Watch a funny show or listen to a positive podcast. It’s amazing how quickly your anger can turn around when you’re laughing or receiving positive energy from someone else!
Use the anger as motivation. If you can control the scenario that’s causing your anger, then you can do something about it!
Focus on something more positive. A great thing to do here is think of something you are grateful for and focus on why you’re so grateful about it. Putting yourself in a state of gratefulness will trigger those happy endorphins and will get you out of that pissy mood fast.
Get productive. Feeling on purpose can be quite energizing. If you have something that’s calling your name, get busy and shift your attention to that.
Write in a journal. A great way to release that negative vibe from your body is to write it out. Keep writing until you’ve vented everything that comes to mind. Even if it’s not the same thing that got you angry in the first place – just let it all out!

I’m curious if you have ever experienced someone either getting angry with you in a business relationship or did you lose your cool and get angry with a client or service provider? How did it turn out? What lesson did you learn? And do you have any other tips on how to let go of anger to share?

To your business success,

Susan

RECOMMENDED RESOURCES:

READ: Learn effective communication principles from an expert. This book from communications specialist Yvonne Douma is a must-read. It will be available on June 8th but you can get yourself on her notification list and grab some great bonuses if you purchase on launch day: REFRAME: How to Change Your Conversations to Resolve Those Messy Conflicts.
WATCH: Have you ever been frustrated by the lack of customer service from another company and vowed to never do business with them again? And most certainly never told anyone else about them? This is why customer service is so vital to business success as I explain in this eTip episode on why it’s the primary reason we have such a high referral rate: How Great Customer Service Gets You Business Referrals (on our website)
READ: I guess all of us have been on the receiving end of a situation where we are not satisfied with customer service. But how do you respond? Read this great piece from Kindi Gill who shares excellent insights on managing difficult client situations: Five Tips for Managing Customer Complaints (on our website)

Susan Friesen, founder of the award-winning web development and digital marketing firm eVision Media, is a Web Specialist, Business & Marketing Consultant, and Social Media Advisor. She works with entrepreneurs who struggle with having the lack of knowledge, skill and support needed to create their online business presence.

As a result of working with Susan and her team, clients feel confident and relieved knowing their online marketing is in trustworthy and caring hands so they can focus on building their business with peace of mind at having a perfect support system in place to guide them every step of the way.