Don’t believe it, but make sure your client thinks she’s right.
Every time I hear this, I cringe because I know the conversation will turn into a discussion about how true the statement is rather than on what it means. Whether it’s true is NOT what’s important. It doesn’t mean that EVERY customer is right about EVERY single thing on EVERY given day. What it does mean is that it’s your responsibility (and smart business decision) to treat them as though it is 100% true.

“Those Clients”

Now some of you are still stuck thinking, “Yeah, but what about those clients.” Who? The liars, rip-off artists, constant complainers. I say, “Yep, even those clients.” Why? Because it’s the prudent action of course, and you can see that when you aren’t emotionally charged.  

Now does it mean that you have to keep these clients? Nope, not if you really don’t want to, and this needs to be a business decision also, not an emotional one.  You can still treat the client as if they are right without committing to be their eternal service provider. 

A Gracious Example

Take the lady who accused our company of denting her wall, when a week later she watched her dog make an identical mark on a bordering wall. When she continued to stick to her guns about the original dent, we had options, and this is the one I chose: 

We fixed her wall, didn’t ask for reimbursement, and graciously gave her the names of two independent cleaners (licensed) in the area who might be better suited to her home.  

Did I mention we were gracious? In hindsight, I treated her as though she was right, but I wish I’d gone further and kept her as a client. In those days, my average client was valued at $13,000.00. The repair was less than $100.00. Not my best move, especially since we’d been cleaning for her for over two years without an incident. Now if it had been one of the first few cleanings, letting her go might have been a reasonable decision; maybe every tiny problem she ever saw in her home was going to come back on us and it wouldn’t have been smart to take on the liability. Maybe. But not in this case. 

As it was, at least we treated her well – like she was right. Even though it might not have been ideal, we still hear from her today when she needs a cleaning crew for her husband’s VERY LARGE construction company. We’ve made up more than the $13,000.00, but that never would have happened had we decided that she was wrong and she was going to know it.  

Was she right? Doubtful. Did it matter? YES, because she was right to her and that’s what mattered. That distinction is what you need to focus in on during the trying times. Does she think she’s right? If so, your best option is to treat her that way. No good comes from anything else.  

5 Ways to Treat  Your Clients

Here are five ways to treat your clients that make them feel like they’re right, because that’s what’s important!

  1. Respond quickly, preferably by phone if it’s something big.
  2. Listen to understand. Stop thinking about your side when you are supposed to be listening to theirs. It’s rude, and it isn’t helpful.
  3. Focus on solving their problem first, not yours. More times than not you will find that when you solve their problem, yours goes away.
  4. Say “You’re right.” It can go a long way toward getting someone to calm down and be more rational.
  5. Make a list of things your clients complain about, update it religiously. You may just find some things you thought were fine really aren’t.
Liz Trotter is founder of American Maid Cleaning as well as an entrepreneur and leadership trainer based in Olympia, Washington.  She is also a former ARCSI board member, a partner in Cleaning Business Builders, creator of the HiPEP employee development system and a charter member of Cleaning For A Reason.