I HAVE been under pressure from clients before in my career, I’ve had them barking down the phone at me and even face-to-face. Up to now however I have always known how to handle it.
Last week however I opened an email from a large, high maintenance, client and was left speechless.
It took me a good half an hour of just staring at the screen, re-reading the content of the email before I could function properly. The client had basically accused me of not caring about his business and not being bothered that he was going through a difficult time, cash-flow wise.
I was just unable to calm down, and had to phone my wife to help me decide what the right thing to do was. She convinced me to call the client rather than get into an email war, and so I did. As I suspected though he didn’t pick my call up and it went through to his voicemail. I chose to not leave a voicemail and instead set about trying to write a suitable response via email.
This is the point where I hit brick wall and just could not find the suitable words to respond with. I think it was partly to do with my anger at being accused at not caring, but also because deep down I don’t think I wanted the relationship, which appeared to be breaking down, to be fixed.
Every time in the past when a client has been unhappy and told me so, I’ve managed to find the right words to say to fix the situation and make things better going forward.
Just to give you a bit of background on the client in question, they have been with me since day one of starting their business and it’s been a struggle all the way. Cash flow has been hit with unexpected disasters that nobody could have imagined. They have looked on me as their finance director and I have acted as such, setting them up with meetings with various finance providers, and even lined up a couple of potential business investors as a last resort. It’s been very stressful, and over the past few months as cashflow has remained tight, I’ve felt more and more as though the client has been wanting someone to blame other than themselves.
The email I received last week confirmed my suspicion that they were looking to blame me.
I still haven’t managed to speak to the client despite several attempts on my part, and I’ve still not made my mind up which way I want the conversation to go when it happens.
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