Angry Client? Here’s How to Diffuse the Situation
Law firms depend on clients to keep them up and running. Without clients, you don’t have a law firm. That’s why it is of the utmost importance to do what you can to keep your clients happy. While you might not be able to keep every client happy, you can do your best to diffuse a hostile situation quickly. If you are dealing with an angry client, consider implementing some of the following tactics to diffuse the situation and turn things around.
Start by listening to the client’s concerns.
One of the first things you need to do is spend time listening to the client. Once a client is irate, they are going to need to vent their frustration before you are going to be able to talk to them rationally. Don’t attempt to stop them before they even get started. If you know that the client is angry, take a step back and listen. Allowing the client to say their piece first will open up the door to a rational conversation.
You cannot address the situation until you know the full extent of the problem. After allowing the client to speak, reiterate the problem to make sure you understand what the issue is. This lets the client know that you heard them and ensures you are on the right page. Additionally, ask the client questions to help clarify the issue further and to show that you are actively listening to their concerns. Only after you have a solid understanding of what caused the problem and showed that you are invested in the client’s concerns can you work on making it right.
Keep your emotions in check.
When dealing with an angry client, it is often hard not to let your emotions step in and take control. Many people find themselves responding to anger with anger, but that is the last thing you want to do. Oftentimes, the person who is angry isn’t angry at you. They are angry at the situation they are dealing with. By not taking their complaint and anger personally, you will be able to respond to the situation appropriately.
Ultimately, exercising patience and a calm attitude will get you farther than yelling back at the client. In the event you feel yourself getting angry, you need to take a moment to step away to calm yourself down. If necessary, include one of your team members to help bring a calming influence to the situation.
Be mindful of your tone.
If a client comes into your office or calls on the phone and starts screaming uncontrollably at you, don’t respond in kind. It is important to realize the tenor of your tone can diffuse or exacerbate the problem. Avoid being condescending, irritated, sarcastic or demeaning in your response to them. Rather, talk in a lower volume exhibiting calmness. Your calm tone and demeanor will help calm them down and enable you to resolve the situation professionally and efficiently.
Apologize when you are at fault.
If the client is angry over something you or your firm did, you need to discuss the issue and explore what can be done to resolve the issue. Being able to acknowledge and admit that there is a legitimate reason for the client to be upset is crucial to getting past the whole ordeal. Denying the reality of the client’s situation or anger isn’t going to bode well for your firm or your reputation as a levelheaded and thoughtful attorney. Be willing to be the bigger person and admit that you might have made a mistake, especially if you truly did. Trying to ignore the problem and act like it never happened is only going to cause more stress and undue anger and frustration.
Listening, reigning in your own emotions, being aware of your tone, and apologizing when you are at fault are just four simple ways that you can quickly diffuse an angry client and move past the problem quickly and easily. There is no reason why you should be stuck in a heated battle for hours, or even days, when you can put an end to it in mere minutes. Your law firm depends on clients and positive word of mouth to help you continue to grow and flourish. One bad review could make people question whether you are the right firm to represent them or not, and since that is the last thing that you want, consider implementing these simple rules of respect and consideration in your interactions with angry (or any) clients.
Jared Pierce hung his own shingle right out of law school and has spent every minute since then discovering the joys and difficulties of chasing success. Anyone who has ever met Jared will tell you h