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What to Do About the Late Client

Running a business that requires clients and patients to make an appointment holds its own set of problems. One common situation is the "late client syndrome". Here are three suggestions for how to handle the late client.

1. Forgive your client

If your client is late, never admonish them for any reason. Things happen. Yes, your client may have not planned her time as well she could have, or she didn't consider road construction. But what if there was a phone call that was too important to ignore? Or the babysitter was late? Or her child spit up on her clothes right before she was to leave? Sometimes your client may just need a little extra forgiveness--it may mean more to her than you imagine!

2. Be gracious

Consider saying, “I see you are running a little behind schedule, but let’s see if we can get things going now that you’re here." Or, “ I understand, things happen.” If the client's late arrival can't be accommodated, try a simple remark like, “Unfortunately, we are booked up today so we won’t be able to do your service; may we reschedule your appoint for another time." For an extra touch, you could offer to set up a longer appointment the next time. Hint: for the client who is habitually late, schedule the appointment 10 minutes before her actual time.

3. Be careful of your tone

Often, it's not often what you say but HOW you say it. Having a compassionate and thoughtful tone to your voice will ease your client and avoid them feeling embarrassed.

A late client is not a "bad" client; white glove treatment can go a long way.

Jeannie Vaage, Etiquette Consultant, VIP Protocol
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