Keep Your Cool and Your Clients – Even the Tough Ones!

When you’ve built relationships with long-term clients, they can seem like friends. You look forward to getting a call or a visit from them, you know their interests, their kids’ approximate ages, and you feel comfortable sharing about your life with them. Those are the ones we hope for… but then there are others.

We’re in this business to serve clients, but some make it harder than others to do so. Though your more challenging clients are not always fun to deal with, you still want to maintain a professional relationship. If you’re not sure where you stand with your clients, we can help you find out.

You don’t want to jeopardize your role as trusted advisor, nor do you want the client to leave. The tension could be caused by a personality conflict, and you may be able to transfer the client to another CPA within your firm. Often, that’s just not an option. Here are some tips for dealing with those clients:

Get to the root of the problem. Sometimes they have a vague dissatisfaction that makes them behave angrily. You’ll have to ask them to be specific about what’s not working. Sometimes this will require a lengthy conversation, but your client will appreciate that you took the time to diagnose the issue and work together on a solution.

Be mindful of the words you choose. You’ll want to be reassuring, and use terminology that the client understands. You don’t want your clients to feel stupid just because they don’t speak CPA. Remember, accounting is your industry, not your client’s. That’s why your clients come to you. Try to break things down as simply as you can. Once you and the client are communicating effectively, you can identify steps to take to remedy the situation.

All businesses have to deal with tricky clients at times, and CPA firms are no different. Communication goes a long way toward making your interactions more pleasant. If they’re really getting to you, don’t forget that sometimes a vacation day or two can help put these challenges into perspective!

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