The squeaky wheel does tend to get the grease. But does the squeaky wheel get the type of grease it really needs, or does it get the first thing you can find on the shelf to make it stop squeaking? In client support, also known as customer success, it is difficult to ignore the squeaky wheels. They are your most outspoken customers; they have definitive thoughts about what they what and need, and they are not afraid to tell you.

(Read: Three Secrets to Customer Service Success.)

While it is important to pay close attention to all your customers, it is difficult to avoid prioritizing your squeaky wheels. While this may be unavoidable, I urge you not to give the squeaky wheel that first can off the shelf or exactly what they ask for without question. Doing so might solve the problem in the short term, but it will likely come back to bite you in the ‘you know what’ in the long term.

Why? Because effective client support requires clearly understanding the problem before jumping into a solution.

Squeaky wheels - outspoken customers - can be the hardest to deal with in client support. Here's how to effectively manage them.

The squeaky wheel might not like taking the time to answer questions and wade through the problem with you. But it is imperative to make this a priority. Squeaky wheels have a tendency to describe the solution they want, not the problem they suffer from. It might not always be pleasant, but you need to do the hard work up front and force the client to think through the problem more critically. Ask if something’s changed in the client’s routine. Ask if other people are suffering from the same issue. Approach the issue like a journalist—try asking:

  • Who?
  • What?
  • When?
  • Where?
  • Why?
  • How?

Once you have a clear understanding of the problem, you’re much more likely to come up with an effective solution that, importantly, prevents the issue from reoccurring. Sometimes it’ll be as simple as restarting a computer. Other times it’ll be more complicated. But it will invariably be a different solution to what the client initially envisaged.

This way you end up delivering a far better result and they will be much happier in the long term. If you force yourself to do it right the first time, those lingering, periodic squeaks will be drastically minimized and both parties will be happier in the end.