“Being a project manager is more like being a parent to a new born baby. The task is to give the baby whatever it is that he likes. Or else, he’ll cry and he won’t stop unless you pacify him with the thing that he exactly likes. Or worse, he might get another mommy.”
Obviously, no business can exist without customers. We, as employees, specifically, as project managers, have to take utmost care of our clients to ensure excellent service and to provide an exceptional satisfaction. But in this world of different opinions, cultures and attitudes, a good management has become an almost unreachable goal. No matter how hard you try, there are always these absurdities to wash away all the smiles of the day. May it be the usual misunderstanding, strict deadlines, unreachable-super-technical-words, slow internet connection, failure in the electricity, and even dysmenorrhea. It’s as if you’ll need the Marauder’s map of Harry Potter just to know where to put yourself. Sometimes, a project manager might just say, “I am not a genie. I cannot give you everything that you want in seconds.” Problems always come no matter how kind a person is. And both for the employee and client’s sides, with or without a genie, we cannot avoid these problems that barricade a good management, thus, make the clients ‘irate.’
Fortunately, there are ways on how to handle irate clients. It is critical that you form a close relationship with the client. The most important thing when working with customers is honouring one’s promises. When one promises something, deliver. A client doesn’t like to be disappointed. We may think it’s they’re personal joy to shout on us and/or blame us all the time, but no, the last thing they need is a bad mood which will eventually produce a bad mouth. Of course, it is never our intention to have them disappointed as well but sometimes, something may not just get done, or someone might miss a deadline and that would just seem to be a project manager’s fault. Result: irate clients.
We should anticipate the client’s need and go out of our way to help them out. No matter what happens, stay calm and polite. This is a challenging situation that we always have to face. It might not always be practical to deal with all customers’ concerns within the space of a few hours using emotionally empty emails, but at least, be kind and try to temper the anger of the person no matter how irate he is. If you’re not able to solve a problem, let the client have an honest assurance that you’re working on it. If a client rants about a service that has not been delivered, ask for specific instructions and verify if you understood him/her correctly. Finally, work on the ways resolve the problem, might as well; get all the help you might need. If everything’s been done for the project’s betterment to the best of your knowledge and still they’re ranting that it’s not satisfactory, tell them all the details that made their wants impossible. One thing clients hate most is continuously waiting for solutions that are not certain to happen. In doing these, no matter how hard it is, try to make your clients feel like you’re their friend and you’re there to help them out. However, hard times will ask you to think of beating your clients on the head repeatedly with a very sharp object- this usually happens. But it’s of vital importance that you don’t break down and try to keep a clear head. Build rapport and, together, seek solutions. Respond to your clients’ wishes, and at all times maintain courtesy. It makes the customers feel welcomed and valued. All you need to do is to pause and wear your customer’s shoes.
As I’ve said earlier, a project manager is like being a parent. Not just a parent, but a good one who is able to nourish her child with all the knowledge that she can get for the baby to understand the world. This is a new definition from a project manager so that one would be able to build a new level of understanding about good management about the hardships and dilemmas of a project manager.
*The original article is entitled, “Task Sheets of a Promising Project Coordinator (Handling Irate Clients).”
By: Gladies G. Flores