In daily life, difficult people can be everywhere, whether driving or in the checkout stand at the grocery store. Most people in the service industry have dealt with difficult clients. But, it becomes particularly interesting to work with clients in the hair or makeup chair who believe, they are paying you for a service, and feel that they are entitled to treat you as a servant for the duration of the service.
As an industry veteran, I have worked with all kind of negative clients, the difficult, the bossy, the naïve, the passive aggressive, and the constantly angry personality. Five ways to deal with a negative client, and still maintain professionalism, is to create an outline of the service, establish boundaries, maintain focus, don’t internalize their behavior, and as a last option, discontinue future services.
- Create and state, the outline of the service you intend to perform with the client. Make it clear, that they chose you, because of your expertise in your field. Do not argue, or raise your voice with the client, but clearly state the services you are rendering for them.
- Establish boundaries with the client, and let them know up front, that you are rendering a service, but you understand that they may be having a bad day, but it is NOT acceptable for them to take it out on you. If you don’t know what your boundaries are before the client gets in your chair, then they are directing the behavior of the session. Know yourself and what does and doesn’t work for you.
- During the service, if the client is still occasionally rude or difficult, maintain your focus while working, but continue to be clear, and let them know they are crossing the established boundary. Be firm, but polite when letting them know they are close to the line.
- Often, clients step in to your chair with all of their problems, and immediately want to talk about what is going on in their lives. They use the beauty session as their personal therapy outlet. More often, than not, we are first to hear about the latest gossip about relationships, financial disasters or family loss. Because of the willingness client’s have with sharing personal information, it’s important to remember, not to internalize the client’s problems and behavior. Don’t take it personal. Realize that it isn’t you that the client is frustrated or angry with, unless you did something that directly caused such behavior. Know that everyone has good days and bad days. Try to give the benefit of the doubt before taking step number 5.
- Dismissing a client should be your last option. However, if a client continues to cross the line and is verbally abusive, he or she MUST leave. Do not acknowledge that this behavior is acceptable. I have been in this situation on set where I clearly let the person know that I work for myself and that such behavior is not acceptable and will not be tolerated. I further informed them that they had two choices, they could continue with the service with a new revised attitude, or could leave and find someone else to take care of their services.
If you need to use option five make sure you have exhausted your resources and patience with the situation. If you are working on set, make sure that you involve the Director or Production Manager. Do not try to handle the situation alone. If however you are in your salon and renting space and this is a client that was referred to you, you must take matters into your own hands and clearly state the reasons why you are dismissing them. It is also important to let the person who referred them to you know that such a client is not appropriate for your clientele base. There is no need to give details, but do make the referring source aware of the situation.
Although there are many more ways to handle difficult clients, this should give you a good base to start with. Good luck and maintain your professionalism!