Have you ever sensed a change in a client’s mood, behavior, or tone of voice—where it seemed like something was just a bit off? As professionals, we’re conditioned to stay focused on business and avoid delving into the personal sphere with our clients. But ignoring the warning signs of a client who seems upset, sad, distracted, or troubled isn’t the right approach. Instead, you should be there for your clients when they need you most.
There are 3 major warning signs that a client is facing some kind of challenge or adversity:
- The client is less responsive. If your client usually responds to you within a few hours, but you haven’t heard back for over a week, something could be going on.
- The client is in a state of confusion. Suddenly, it might seem like your client has competing priorities that came out of nowhere, and is unable to juggle all the responsibilities in a calm manner.
- The client’s behavior has changed. Maybe your client is short with you on the phone, quieter than usual, or acting in a way that’s totally uncharacteristic.
As entrepreneurs, I believe we have an obligation to help our clients when they’re facing adversity. (Within reason, of course! We don’t want to become their therapists, after all.) When these warning signs show up with my own clients, I always do my best to connect with them as quickly as possible to discuss what’s going on.
Some clients are quick to tell me that they’re facing a minor challenge in their business, or a major challenge in their personal life. Others are less inclined to share what’s troubling them, since it could be related to family or health. Either way, I make it a point to tell these clients that I’m there for them, and I’m happy to help however I can.
In many of these cases, clients might feel overwhelmed, and as a result, want to stop working with you—or at least put a hold on the current project you’re working on. The best way to handle these situations is to lead with compassion. Don’t make it about you or the project. Make it all about the client, and how you can help make things better.
Here are 5 key strategies for helping clients who are going through challenging times:
- Be completely willing to be there for them. You must be intentional about helping your clients who are facing adversity. Be in the moment when you speak with them, and stay focused on what they’re telling you. Listen. Think of ways you can be of help, and never think about what’s in it for you.
- Lead with a voice and spirit of compassion. This is self-explanatory. Don’t be judgmental or come across as impatient or annoyed. Lead with compassion.
- Show confidence. It’s your job to point these clients in the right direction. Talk to them with confidence and calmness, so that you show them that you’re confident in their ability to overcome the challenge at hand.
- Outline the first step they can take. Give these clients a quick first step they can take to start to pull themselves out of the rut they’re in. Don’t overwhelm them with data or advice. Just outline the first step they can take to start making things better.
- Create an action plan. Establish a simple, clear action plan to keep the momentum going, and encourage them to commit to it.
How mentally and emotionally available are you for your clients? Remember that helping your clients stay on top of their game will only improve the work you do together. If you can help keep your clients’ minds clear and free from distractions, they’ll put more into their work with you—and get better results, too.
It’s important to be there for your clients when they need you most. Don’t ignore the warning signs! Show confidence, compassion, and leadership to help your clients overcome adversity.
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