Dealing with Difficult Clients

Dealing with Difficult Clients

Do you ever say yes when you really would prefer to say no?

We spend so much time in our Virtual Assistant businesses trying to find clients, we rarely stop to think about what we do if they aren't that great.

You know who I'm talking about ... the clients who make you cringe when you see their name on your phone or in your email.

Our support professional persona almost always contains the 'people-pleaser' gene, and we never really want to say no to people when they ask us to do something for them.

We might put up with behaviour from clients that is not really acceptable - if those clients think of us as their 'help', or their 'staff'. It's not fun.

But who wants to turn away clients and lose the revenue, right?

Dealing with difficult clients is a necessary thing to learn how to do well in your business. It will help you attain longevity and be in business (happily!) for a long time.

You teach people how to treat you.

And it's up to you to teach them to treat you well!

So what is a difficult client? Here are a few behaviours that might be defined as difficult:

Breaks your boundaries.

If you have a preferred method of communication (email) and the client is constantly messaging you or calling you instead, they need to be taught the right way to communicate with you. Don't respond using methods that are not allowed. Tip: If a client texts you, email them back and let them know you got their message but to please use your communication channels so you can keep your paper trail of their work all in one place.

Micromanages your task list.

Your clients are hiring you to help them in their business because of your expertise. You should be the one managing your tasks and your schedule. You get to say what gets done and when - not someone else. You need to work with lead times and deadlines with your clients so that everyone has enough time to fit the work into their own schedule. Tip: Be proactive and communicate well. If a client sends you a task request, acknowledge it and let them know when you will complete it. Part of micromanaging comes from the client not knowing if you got their request, or not knowing when you will do it. So tell them!

Last minute work

We mentioned lead times above but last minute work is really important to address. If your clients are constantly sending you their newsletter the morning it needs to be sent out, you need to stop it. Let them know what lead time you need to get it done properly, and then hold them to it. When you consistently do last minute work, you are developing bad habits that clients will find hard to break. Tip: The easiest way to stop this habit is to simply refuse to do the work. Rush fees rarely speak to clients. But when their work does not get done because they are not organized enough, they will find a way to get organized.

Difficult clients are often just clients that have been allowed to creep boundaries or work scope. Not always, but often.

Don't let anyone treat you the way you don't want to be treated.

Act like a business owner. Treat the clients with respect. Set rules for them and hold both of you to those rules.

Everything will be clearer and your communication and your work together will improve vastly. Promise!

5 Tips to Manage Multiple Virtual Assistant Clients

 

How do you handle more than one client’s work at a time?

Virtual Assistants often work with many clients at the same. It’s a more common model to have many clients than it is to just work with two or three clients (once your business is established of course!).

How do you handle it when everyone needs something at once?

As much as you are your own boss in your business, the clients are really the ones who fill your time on a daily basis.

So how do you handle more than one ‘boss’ at a time?

Simple ... scheduling, clarity and good communication are the three most important things to get right in your VA business, so you can get your clients’ work done, and keep your sanity!

I have often warned VAs of being ‘at the ready’ with their clients – it’s easy to form an employer-employee relationship with someone that you work closely with, and it’s important to guard those boundaries as a partnership instead.

When you work with a lot of different people, they all have different requirements and different schedules and different deadlines.

Here are 5 tips on how to manage multiple clients better in your virtual assistant business:

 

1. Block time in your schedule to work on a client’s work. 

Gather projects that need doing for the same client, and do several of them at once. This way you can concentrate on (and bill) their work during one time period. It’s not necessary to tell a client when you are working on their pieces, ie ‘Thursday from 10 to 11 am’, but you should let them know when you will deliver the completed task/work to them.

2. Be clear with lead time and deadlines.

It’s up to you to make sure that your clients know how much lead time you need for tasks and projects. Once you do, you must hold them to those deadlines and lead times as much as possible, in order to honor the relationships you have with all of your clients. If you have a client who often sends you last minute requests, it can throw off your schedule for all of your other clients, who may be respecting your deadlines. The more prepared your clients are, the better you can manage your whole workload.

3. Schedule production calls weekly.

It’s important to have regular communication with your clients for the ongoing tasks you have in your schedule for them. By having a quick weekly phone call you can work out any details for the upcoming week, and everyone is on the same page. The remainder of communication can take place through email as required, but that personal touch is really important when you work virtually.

4. Protect your boundaries.

Boundaries are very important when you are working as a virtual assistant. You have to be sure that everyone around you (including you!) protects those boundaries, so that you can get the things done that you need to get done, when they need to get done. If you are like me, your time is precious and you want to maximize it. So be sure to set your boundaries for turnaround times, deadlines, phone calls, or whatever else, and stick to them.

5. Be proactive.

When you are not working on a client’s work, you should still be thinking about them. Be sure to let them know this. The production call is great, but be sure to check in with your clients to see if there are other things they need done. It can be a great way to increase your billable time with them, and build a better client relationship. Working with the same types of clients makes this piece easier – what you are doing for one you can also be doing for others.

Good communication, clarity and scheduling will help you to achieve a smooth schedule and you will be able to handle many happy clients every day. And of course, that will make your ‘boss’ (you!) happy too!

While you need to do all of these things, you also have to find great clients to work with. Get a few ideas about how to do that here.