Found yourself in the clutches of the squid-like abomination of the free market — the patronizing client? Or it’s hulk-like transformation, the difficult one?
Glad to help
Let’s get straight to the point: You deal with a difficult client because you have, in some way, failed to live up to her/his expectations. Perhaps you did not clarify all the details, or forgot to ask them “repeat after me” nor quizzed them often about it, but in the end it’s the client’s perception of your work that takes precedence over all else.
And this post will primarily talk about how to deal with difficult clients by working your way through or around their perceptions and reach a resolution.
The First Move: Cool Down — Add the following to the Client’s [Ignorant] statements
“Ignorant”, that must’ve brought a smile, and just between us: we got away with it!
Jokes aside; this is the time when the adage “being on the same page” will be the ruin of your relation, project, and your day. It often happens that clients make patronising statements about your work, doubting your ability to tackle the project (for reasons unknown), and which at times nears “I know the stuff more than you do!”
But you need to cool down, and the best way to do that is by mentally adding “from my limited experience” to every statement they make. That will relieve your frustrations faster than any meditation technique could!
Dealing with Clients Who are Short on Deadlines
Some clients just equate top dollar with the speed of work that is possible from their contracted business. Probably they believe that you’ve got an army of dwarfs who can break down the whole project into minuscule parts and then put them together for a viola’ moment. Or perhaps they forget that time dilation does not work, as yet, in businesses.
The best way to deal with them is to communicate the procedure of your work before hand. Clarify what they are hoping to receive and in what time, then ask for time to do the preliminary research and/or discovery meetings before returning to them with a viable time duration for your work. In case they insist:
- Start by acknowledging their circumstances and their need for a short deadline
- Clarify that the process takes time
- State the set goals and objectives and what has been achieved or delivered so far
- Re-iterate that your business has to standby its quality standards
- Seek a resolution
Dealing with Clients Who Want it Cheaper
Well… who doesn’t? That’s probably the easiest way of boosting one’s profit. Clients who are hell bent on negotiating, or rather dictating, the total cost of completing their project, either do not understand the market value of the service/products you are offering, or are believing that “moving on to the next in line” is a golden card up their sleeves.
If you find yourself dealing with a client who takes the line “can’t you do it cheaper” then:
- Assert your pricing and value by confidently saying “No”, or “I’m afraid not”
- Assuage their fears and reassure them of your services, expertise, experience, and portfolio (many clients, being inexperienced are afraid of being duped)
- Offer to re-evaluate the scope of the project and reduce it to make it meet their budget or to break it into stages
Final Words — The customer is not Always Right
In the end, we’re telling you that it’s okay to say ‘NO’ when dealing with a difficult client that is taking up an exorbitant amount of your resources as well as draining energy and morale of your team. Now, we’re asking you to be reasonable about it as well. Communicate to your customer that you understand their request while explaining how it is not possible to for your business to meet their terms. Be honest and do what’s best for business instead of pleasing a single client, but do state it diplomatically. If you are just starting out and don’t have any clients yet, read our article on effective ways of getting web design clients.