“Your most unhappy customers are your greatest source of learning.”– Bill Gates.
Dealing with all different types of people is part of the norm for real estate agents, but dealing with angry clients would definitely have to be one of the worst things any agent has to cope with. Most agents will die a thousand deaths on the inside when faced with an angry client. Some will start mumbling apologies and others will go on the defensive, but neither is a good strategy and will make negotiations less effective.
It’s very easy to lose motivation and it can be difficult to get the relationship back on track once you have an angry client but take heart, it’s not impossible, if you follow our 6 easy steps on how to deal with angry clients.
- Shut up and listen – Although this can be tough, it is really important that you let your client vent. Most agents will want to butt in and give their opinion or their side of the issue, but don’t! Your client’s anger, whether founded or unfounded, just needs to be expressed and you need to find out if the concerns are legitimate or not. Anger comes from a weak position so you need to remain calm and quiet and that will give you power in the situation. When you have let the client finish their concerns, you may well find that they have calmed themselves down just by being heard. This will make them more open to a resolution.
- Address your client by name – This is a really powerful tip. ‘John, thank you for bringing this to my attention’ or ‘Josie, I’m so sorry that’. It immediately brings your interaction to a more personal level.
- Show empathy – When you do reply you need to remember to keep your voice calm and low and firm. Imagine yourself in your client’s position. Empathise and connect. Show understanding even if you are right. If you show any fear or uncertainty, your client will go for the jugular. Emotions can be contagious so this is not the time to get angry back or you will have lost all hope for a good outcome and may well lose the client. The same goes for just arguing your point of view without showing empathy for your client’s perspective.
- Educate – If the issue is down to your client not understanding why you might be doing something like wanting them to accept an offer that they think is too low or why you are choosing a particular advertising strategy when they think you should be advertising elsewhere, take the upper hand – you are the professional with the experience. Educate your clients and make sure you can give proof and statistics to back up your decisions and strategy.
- Admit being wrong – If you are in the wrong, have forgotten to deliver on a promise or have made a mistake, admit it and apologise. Trying to cover up or make excuses will get you nowhere and will only make your client angrier. Man or woman up! Show your human side and make amends. ‘Tom, I sincerely apologise. What can I do to reassure you that this won’t happen again?’ By admitting fault and apologising sincerely, you may just be able to keep the client and get your relationship back onto firm ground.
- Create win-win – Even if your client is in the wrong and out of line, you need the situation to be resolved so everyone is happy. Otherwise, ill feeling will linger and future dealings will be uncomfortable and problematic. Put yourself in your client’s shoes and imagine how they are feeling. Even if you need to go out of your way to reassure and hand hold, it will be worth it in the long run.
As Bill Gates says in the opening quote, ‘unhappy customers should be your greatest source of learning’. Listen to what an angry client says, work out what you could have done better so that it didn’t escalate to the point of anger, and make sure you do it better next time with this client and others. Learn from the experience.
Sometimes things happen – clients can be difficult, you can make a mistake or forget something, or just plain mess up – but if you can learn to deal easily with angry clients you will turn a negative experience into a positive one. Having an angry client isn’t easy or pleasant, but by using these 6 techniques, you should be able to resolve the situation and turn your angry client into a happy one.
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