Let’s be real, not all clients are going to be great people who you would want to hang out with after hours. Others are just okay, and some can be more a handful to deal with. But there are a select few that most businesses will never have to deal with – much to the luck of the businesses. These rare folks are not only impossible to please, but will actively work to hurt your business by whatever means they can. More often than not, they will claim that you didn’t reach out to them to address their issues, or will even doctor an email from you and post a falsified screenshot. While this is, once again, a very rare occurrence, every business owner should learn how to deal with a client who is purposefully fudging the truth. Here’s what to do in case you find yourself in a bad position with these folks.
- Address them privately at first. Email them, politely and professionally, detailing what really happened. Tell them that you’re very sorry they felt they had a bad experience, and if you are in the wrong, ask them what can be done to ameliorate the situation.
- If you weren’t in the wrong, and their demands are unreasonable, do not apologize for an imaginary wrongdoing. Tell them that you have rules that you have to enforce for either safety’s sake or for the sake of other patrons, and that they are not exempt from following the rules. Explain why asking for exemption isn’t fair to others if necessary.
- Ask them, politely, to remove or at least update the review to explain things in full. Do not demand. Do not threaten to sue. Be nice.
- If they refuse, do not acknowledge your letter, and continue to complain, publicly address the issue on whatever review site they have chosen to complain on. With this, it’s best to be blunt while staying professional. Explain, in full, what happened between you and the customer. If they doctored your letter or said that they never reached out to you, offer a screenshot of your communications.
- Do not feed the troll. Do not escalate the argument. Do not capitulate to unreasonable requests. The less you react, the crazier they will seem. Most of the time, you shouldn’t consider suing for libel or defamation, simply because it is not worth your time. The only time that you should take measures in court is if they are accusing you of illegal activities that could cause your business to be shut down.
- If you’re noticing a pattern of bad behavior, consider refusing service to customers who cannot behave respectfully. Most restaurants and bars have a blacklist of people who are not allowed in because they are too rowdy, too drunk, or just plain awful. If you have to do it for the sake of your business’s wellbeing, don’t be afraid to turn people away at the door. After all, if you refuse to serve them, they can’t do much about it.
Nightmare clients are very rare, but they can be very damaging to your online reputation. Be careful about how you deal with these landmines – they’re doozies.