Interview with Investment Executive- Dealing with a Demanding Client

Explain the limits of your service

By Fiona Collie | December 15, 2011

If you should encounter a particularly demanding client, it's best to take a step back and consider a solution instead of the problem.

"Focus on what the client's needs are, not on their manner," says Rosemary Smyth, owner and coach with Victoria-based Rosemary Smyth and Associates, which specializes in working with financial advisors.

A demanding client is someone who repeatedly takes up an unreasonable amount your time, whether it's from multiple phone calls throughout the day or unrealistic expectations of your service. The following tips should help ease the tension caused by a client with high demands:

Stay professional
Don't lose your cool when talking about the situation with your client.

As you would when working through an isolated incident with a difficult client, says Smyth, you should give a demanding client a chance to explain his or her side of the story.

Next, paraphrase what the client has said and give your own opinion, she says. Always express your thoughts in a professional manner.
Create boundaries
Clients become excessively demanding when their expectations are unrealistically high. If the client expects 24-hour services, Smyth says, take some time to explain your work boundaries.

For example, if you want clients to respect your office hours, Smyth says, arrange an appointment and explain that you will handle any issues or questions at that time.

If, on the other hand, you are comfortable making house calls in the evenings to drop off or pick up documentation, then make sure you explain exactly when you are available — and when you are not.

Don't avoid the client
If there is a problem with one of your clients, you need to address it right away — ignoring the problem will only make it worse.

Instead, Smyth says, be proactive and acknowledge the problem.

For example, if the client has left 18 voicemail messages throughout the day, she says, call him or her back and say: "I've received your messages and will be touching base with you shortly."

Clarify your services
Be sure to explain the extent of your services to a demanding client.

A client's unrealistic demands are usually placed on the advisor's time, Smyth says. It's not that the client wants a whole new policy or financial plan, but simply that he or she wants everything done immediately.

So, for example, if your client wants detailed information on his or her pension and retirement planning, explain exactly what needs to happen in order for you to provide him or her with that information and how long it will take.


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