Not every accounting client is going to be a walk in the park. As a matter of fact, some of them are going to be incredibly difficult to do business with. You’ve probably already encountered your fair share of difficult clients and dealt with all the stress that comes along with them. Wherever money is involved, disagreements are bound to spring up.

Conflict is natural, but it can be awful for business. One wrong move during a spat can land your reputation in pretty hot water. It doesn’t matter who’s in the right, or how unreasonable a customer is being — a negative review is a negative review. That’s why we want to give you some tools for conflict resolution at your accounting firm!

Don’t Lose Your Composure

The quickest way to escalate a challenging situation is to lose your composure. No matter what happens — and no matter how difficult your client is — it’s important to stay calm if you want the matter to be resolved quickly. Even if a client is being unreasonable and it doesn’t seem fair, you still need to remain calm. After all, they have the ability to ruin your reputation through word of mouth. If you keep your side of the street clean, you never have to worry about a difficult client finding ammunition to use against you.

Practice Empathy With Difficult Clients

Disagreements and miscommunications are bound to happen, and anyone can be at fault. Before you make up your opinion about a client, try to take a step back and see things from their point of view. It could just be a simple misunderstanding at the end of the day. Either way, their frustration stems from a deep desire to be heard. Listen to them. Remember to empathize with your clients first and foremost, and this will help you keep your calm when conflict arises.

Resolve Things Quickly

Though time usually makes the heart grow fonder, the opposite is true for clients who are waiting for their issues to be resolved. The quicker you can answer their email, return their call, or address their concern — the better.

Develop a Conflict Resolution Plan

Conflict resolution should be an established procedure at your accounting firm. Just as your staff can refer to a detailed procedural guide as they interact with your accounting software and accomplish their daily task, you should make a point to provide a similar resource for conflict resolution. Develop a conflict resolution plan that your team can refer to any time things go awry.

Improve Your Client Criteria

The best way to deal with difficult clients is to not have difficult clients in the first place. You can avoid issues through proactive communication. By developing a client communication plan early on and managing your client’s expectations, you can avoid misunderstandings that result in conflict.

Sadly, there’s no way you can avoid conflict completely. The only thing you can do is improve how you react. You want to de-escalate situations before they result in harm to your business. Let us know your favorite tips for resolving conflict down below!