It’s your worst nightmare. You receive an email or a phone call from an angry, irate client and you’re on the spot to respond correctly.
Are you 100% confident you can handle it? It’s a difficult situation but calm rational thinking will help you pull through.

Dr. Eric Berne developed a theory of Transactional Analysis in the 1950’s. He discovered that changing the interaction between two people was a way of solving emotional issues that could hinder a positive outcome of a conversation. He describes three ego states; Parent, Adult, and Child. The key to a good client interaction is to determine which ego state your client fits in to and then choose an appropriate response.

The Parent ego state represents times where we act like a parent talking to a child; displaying anger, raising your voice, etc. The Adult ego state represents times where we draw on our lifetime of experiences to obtain an objective positive outcome. The Child ego state represents times when we were younger, acting like a child; crying, sulking, shouting, talking back, etc.

The goal is to get both parties to the Adult state. The first step is yours, act like an adult! You should then lead your client through a process to get them to the same level. Most seemingly irrational clients will have adopted the Parent ego state.

  1. Listen to your caller’s issues and apologies, whether it’s your fault or not.
  2. Sit tight until they have finished complaining. Prior to making the call your customer will no doubt have practiced what they intended to say, and no amount of interrupting will stop them from saying it! To react in either of these ways will prolong the point of resolution.
  3. Once your customer realizes you are not going to respond in the way they anticipated they will start to move from Parent state to Adult state.

Of course, some clients just can’t seem to be pleased and will fight you every step of the way. You will have to make a business decision as to whether or not it makes sense to continue doing business with them. But I digress.

Phillip Grandsard  is a Software Developer at PagePath Technologies. PagePath was founded in 1983 and is headquartered in Plano, Illinois. PagePath’s MyOrderDesk is an eCommerce solution that combines, Web-to-Print, automated proofing, pricing, reordering and more. It seamlessly integrates into a printing organization’s existing website or can be used as a standalone site. MyOrderDesk is known throughout the printing industry as the leader in Web-to-Print software.