Managing Challenging Clients

Managing challenging clientsBuilding Effective Relationships with Difficult Customers

Do you need to deliver an effective service to challenging and, at times, unreasonable internal or external clients? Do you worry that you’ll lose business, or suffer damage to your reputation, because you haven’t handled a particular customer well enough? Do you need to improve the quality of your relationships with your clients in order to secure more repeat and long-term business or to avoid your function being out-sourced? Do you need to prove on a continual basis that you can build top quality relationships with the most difficult and demanding of clients?

Perhaps you want to know how to handle ambivalent and oppositional clients. Perhaps you want to become more skilful at handling clients who appear, at times, obstructive to the work they have asked you to do. Perhaps you want to learn how to work with a client who seems to doubt your competence even though they have engaged you. Or a client who vies with you for control of the work you are carrying out for them. Perhaps you simply want to understand how to work more effectively with clients who are, in the main, troublesome and obstructive by nature from your first contact with them onwards. If so, this book is for you.

Managing Challenging Clients takes you through a highly practical, personal and insightful process. It will introduce you to a valuable set of tools which will enable you to evaluate how you go about building, maintaining and managing your client-facing relationships. It will help you to improve the level of influence you enjoy with awkward and challenging clients whether your customers work for your organization or another employer. The book will help you to:

  • Understand how to create and maintain influential, value-added relationships with the most challenging and difficult of customers.
  • Review where your responsibilities to your clients begin and end.
  • Recognise the risks some clients perceive that they face as they place their trust and reputation in your hands.
  • Understand the importance of the interconnected issues of trust, control and involvement to the quality of dialogue you establish with your customers.
  • Extend the range of influencing options available to you when working with your most controlling, manipulative or unreasonable clients.
  • Assess at what point to cease working with a particularly challenging client.
  • Give yourself the best chance of delivering a service which is perceived as valuable even when handling an unreasonable situation and a provoking character.

Praise for the book

Aryanne Oade’s book is full of expertise, psychological depth and acute insights that will help you build rewarding and sustainable business relationships with even the most demanding, talented and toxic clients in the world. She helped me do it! Aryanne brilliantly investigates how to stay safe, sane and succeed in handling a variety of challenging clients and problem scenarios to achieve lasting results. Clear, intelligent and practical – with sections where you can apply learning to your own life and clients – this is a grown up, joined up and highly enjoyable book that will save you a whole world of grief and help you succeed. I found it’s advice pays off immediately.

GILES FORD Co-Founder Alchemical Arts Consulting; former Global Head of Learning and Change, Deutsche Bank

This is a fitting conclusion to the quintet of linked books by Chartered Psychologist Aryanne Oade designed to help practitioners and people at work with challenging workplace dynamics. The book draws together an unusually powerful combination of coaching insight and practical understanding about relationship management, organizational behaviour and interpersonal dynamics. It demonstrates a rare capacity to get inside the process of a supplier-customer interaction to pinpoint the elephant traps, banana skins and other lurking dangers waiting to derail the unwary. The structure is clear, helpful and designed with the reader in mind. The author’s strongly held principles give the advice in this book a coherent message and feel. Aryanne maintains that it is always the supplier’s responsibility to fix the problem, no matter how unreasonable the client. She identifies generic tensions, and political and personal frustrations that commonly arise between suppliers and clients, and provides distinctive solutions to each one in a series of realistic and very human case studies and illustrations. Anxieties about trust, reputational risk and control are common sources of difficulty in supplier-client relationships and Aryanne gives a wealth of practical examples about how to defuse potentially explosive situations and re-balance relationships which have gone off centre. This book should be a vade mecum for all account managers, internal and external consultants, freelancers, subcontractors and professionals. I plan to recommend it for our students studying Leadership and Consultancy and Small Business Development because it is exactly what they need.

BARRY CURNOW Head of Human Resources and Organisational Behaviour Department, The University of Greenwich Business School; Past President CIPD and IMC, former Chair ICMCI

This stimulating and readable book challenges Aryanne’s readers to accept responsibility for handling difficult client relationships at work, and offers practical solutions to assist them to take control of situations that are tough to resolve. Aryanne’s central and compelling proposition is that each internal or external supplier must be accountable for finding solutions and building long-term, productive relationships with their clients even when faced with seemingly unreasonable behaviours and demands from them. Her approach is to work through a number of scenarios to set the scene around different types of problem, and then to suggest ways to apply the learning to the reader’s own environment. This is a practical book which acts as a guide to handling challenging customer relationships. I found the book both thought provoking and highly engaging.

WENDY CARTWRIGHT HR Director, Olympic Delivery Authority London 2012

Aryanne Oade’s new book addresses the important issue of creating and maintaining effective customer relationships extremely well. Those of us who supply expertise to clients know that the process depends on an effective and mutually respectful relationship but also that such a rapport is not always easy to achieve. Clearly based on much research and extensive practical experience, her insights into the rights, responsibilities and roles of both sides make this book essential reading for anyone who works with clients in any context.

PROFESSOR BRIAN D SMITH Adjunct Professor SDA Bocconi and Managing Consultant, Pragmedic