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How to Deal With Difficult Clients as a Small Business Virtual Assistant

Dealing with challenging clients is an art form for small business virtual assistants. We've gathered insights from founders and e-commerce managers to provide you with their best practices. From listening and empathizing with client concerns to offering extra support and resources, discover the four key strategies to handle difficult clients effectively.

  • Listen and Empathize with Client Concerns

  • Adopt the 80/20 Rule for Client Management

  • Terminate Unproductive Client Relationships

  • Offer Extra Support and Resources

Listen and Empathize with Client Concerns

As a small-business owner specializing in custom athleisure apparel, dealing with difficult clients requires a blend of patience, communication, and flexibility. One best practice is to always listen actively and empathize with the client's concerns. Understanding their perspective can help in addressing their issues more effectively. 

For example, if a client is dissatisfied with a product, I ensure to listen carefully to their feedback, validate their feelings, and then work collaboratively to find a solution, whether it's a product alteration or a different offering. This approach not only resolves the immediate issue but also helps in building a stronger, trust-based relationship with the client, showing that their satisfaction is our top priority at DasFlow.

Adopt the 80/20 Rule for Client Management

Personally, I just get rid of them. We all know about the 80/20 rule; I'm not going to let a difficult client frustrate me or take my time and energy when there are easier clients out there to deal with.

John Frigo, Ecommerce Manager, Best Price Nutrition

Terminate Unproductive Client Relationships

If all attempts to resolve conflicts with a difficult client fail, it may be necessary to terminate the client relationship. Prioritizing the well-being of your small business can sometimes mean ending a problematic association. It is crucial to assess the impact of the client on your business and consider factors such as consistent difficulties, negative effects on productivity, and strained resources. 

Communicate your decision professionally, emphasizing your commitment to delivering high-quality service but acknowledging the challenges in maintaining a mutually beneficial relationship. This approach ensures that you can focus on clients who align better with your values and goals, ultimately fostering a positive and successful business environment.

Roy Lau, Co-Founder, 28 Mortgage

Offer Extra Support and Resources

Besides addressing difficult client situations, providing resources, tutorials, or training materials can immensely help clients overcome their challenges. By offering extra support that goes beyond the scope of your services, you demonstrate a genuine willingness to assist them. 

For example, if a client is struggling with managing their email inbox efficiently, you can provide them with tips and tricks, or recommend tools or plug-ins that can improve their productivity. This proactive approach not only shows your expertise but also strengthens the client relationship by positioning you as a valuable resource.

A woman of color holding her forehead with her left hand. She is looking down at her laptop with an unhappy expression.


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