Why it’s important to protect your team from difficult customers

Opinions expressed by Entrepreneur the contributors are theirs.

Years ago, I hired a soft-spoken project manager who would bend over backwards for clients. He was a born and bred customer advocate.

He had many years of experience managing website development projects, so I assigned him to some of our most demanding and vocal clients, fully convinced that he would get them out. of the park.

One of the projects I gave him was a website for a local hotel. The project was progressing well. We started with the homepage because it’s like the shiny hood of a car, the first thing visitors see to get an idea. He worked with our creative team to design the landing page based on guest feedback, industry best practices, and the hotel’s existing brand. We went over the first draft together, and it looked great. So he scheduled a call to review it with the client.

Related: How to Handle Difficult People (and Still Hit Your Business Goals)

I was in my office, working on another client’s project, when I looked into the bullpen and saw the project manager coming out of his office and heading for the exit. His face was flushed and he looked pissed off. I quickly got up and followed.

He was outside, pacing in front of the door. Watery eyes indicated he was upset. I asked him if he was okay and to tell me what had happened.

He said he was going through the design with the client, dutifully taking notes on her comments, when out of nowhere she popped a joint and started insulting him. He said she didn’t like the colors, images or content. I remembered that she had provided the images and content, and he confirmed that she had. He said he tried to calm her down by saying he would change them all, but she refused to give in and continued to attack him for the creative work and his perception that the project was a failure. I had heard enough. I told him he had done a good job and apologized for letting him handle the personal attack. I said that this client’s behavior was unacceptable and that I would call her about it.

I was already tense as I walked back to my office, mentally preparing for roll call. Once the call connected, she picked up where she left off with the project manager. She started screaming and swearing. I quickly intervened and told her that her behavior was unacceptable and that if she continued in this tone, I would end the call. I was really ready to hang up, but she fell silent. I explained that his outburst had seriously shocked the project manager and that we would not tolerate his behavior. I said that sometimes companies don’t have good synergy, and if she felt we weren’t up to it, we would refund her the money and let her out of the deal, with no penalties. Anyway, I was ready to fire her as a client.

Related: How to Prepare for Difficult Conversations with Clients

This happened. She remained silent for a moment. Then she started apologizing. She explained some of the pressures she was under, and I felt that wasn’t the first time she had scolded someone. Even though it might be the first time someone called him.

We left things on a good note and I walked out to brief the project manager. He was relieved to learn that she was sorry for the outburst. I could see that he had regained some of his confidence, but most of all he was grateful for my support. From then on, the client approved everything without a word and actually referred another client to us.

It could have gone the other way. That we kept the client was a gift. But for me, the greatest gift was an important lesson in leadership. I couldn’t pawn difficult customers onto my team, hoping they would magically right all the wrongs and turn bad customers into good customers. I also needed to set client expectations early in the process, set the project up for success, and protect my team. More importantly, I remember the look in my project manager’s eyes when I told him I would call him. He had seen how angry I was with her and he knew I had his back. And that’s the heartbeat of running a team: having your back when things go wrong. Because no case is worth seeing your team abused.

About Jason Jones

Check Also

Key Players of Web Tracking Technologies Market to Witness Huge

Web Tracking Technology Market The research report “Global Web Tracking Technologies Market” presents major insights …