Over the summer, Key Notes On Travel (KNOT) examined difficult clients and conversations with conflict resolution and communication expert Charmaine Hammond.
During her third webinar, which was presented in Q&A format, a travel advisor asked whether she needed to have a conversation to fire a client. Couldn't she just "ghost them" instead?
Here's what Hammond advised...
Answer: "It can be valuable to have the conversation because that person might pop up again in your life," Hammond suggested.
"One of the ways you can approach [the conversation] is from the perspective of needs and service. I’ve had to fire clients – for a lack of a better word – and it usually it comes down to two things. A) they’re asking for a service we can’t deliver or in a way we can’t deliver; or b) it’s clearly not a fit – there’s something off with our values or our style."
Instead, Hammond encouraged advisors to be unemotional, presenting the departure as a result of service delivery or fit. In other words, you or your company simply can not fulfill their needs in the way in which they are seeking or in the timeframe they require.
“One way to frame it might sound like this. ‘I understand your needs are…’ and you spell it out very clearly based on what you’ve heard. Then you say, ‘And our service actually covers…,’ and you bullet point that [list] out," explained Hammond. "Then say, ‘I’m not sure our services are going to meet the needs you have.' [That way] it’s not a me-against-you feeling. It’s more about, can we deliver what you’re looking for?”
Hammond also said she has been forthright in telling a client she’s not sure they’re a good fit. She extended an olive branch by following with, “Let me help you find someone who is, because I want to make sure your needs are taken care of.”
Whether or not they take you up on the offer is up to the client.
THE BOTTOM LINE:
Firing a client is not a “feel good” conversation. Hammond noted, “The key is not to be emotional – to take the drama out of it. Speak clearly. Be factual. It’s not about emotion.”
*Some of Charmaine Hammond's responses have been edited for clarity.
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