We’ve gone over everything from Website Design, SEO, to writing great copy, to basic design tips, and even a few pointers on public speaking over the last few weeks. But, what do you do when you are ready to throw the towel in and let your business fold because of those pesky clients from hell? First, don’t close your business. Reasoning with difficult, picky, emotional, and downright nasty #clients doesn’t have to be a huge ordeal. #ClientsFromHell are a fact of life. It’s that simple. It just comes with the territory. There are several things you need to take into account when it comes to dealing with these motivationally-draining clients.
1. #Listen. Listen to what your client has to say and don’t be afraid to ask questions to clarify throughout the entire process. One of the biggest problems with clients (especially in the design industry) is that people don’t always know what they want. In fact, this is quite often the case. It’s your job as the service provider to establish that relationship with the client and get a feeling for the customer’s needs and wants.
2. Stick with the facts, Jack. Be careful not to twist your client’s words into something that isn’t there. You’ve gotta be tough to handle what’s thrown your way in business. There are going to be times that your client isn’t satisfied with the end product even if it’s truly the most miraculously beautiful thing you have ever created. Don’t take a client’s dissatisfaction as a personal attack. Turn your emotional knobs down, take a step back and get a third opinion if that helps. I guarantee you 9 times out of 10, you are over thinking the clients words.
3. #TakeResponsibility. It is your job as the business provider to foster your business relationships. Don’t let your emotions cloud your judgment. And, don’t burn a bridge for a dumb reason. It’s important that you understand your target market and what it takes to attract them and cater to their needs and wants. Stay true to this and only take on clients that fit this target. Otherwise, you risk losing site of the end goal. But, it is also your responsibility to foster the beneficial relationships, so if there is a complaint, take responsibility and diligently drive toward a solution.
4. #RespondCorrectly. You will get the time-suckers, the cheap-skates, the nasty-naysayers, and the undecided-Nancy’s along the way. Learning to respond to these types of clients can be a daunting task. The key is to remove the emotion from the equation and keep it all business until the very end. After all, the way you respond to your clients says a lot about your brand and your business maturity. I like to think of it this way: What would Target do? Put yourself in your client’s shoes and step back and think about how a large corporation responds to complaints and inquiries. We’re not saying that Target has the most aspirational customer service desk, but it’s a great starting point. You can fill in your favorite corporation. But, what does it matter how a large corporation responds to customers? After all, you are a small business and it’s not even comparing apples-to-apples anymore. You don’t have a customer service army behind you. In fact, for many small businesses, customer service, sales, and accounting are all done by one person – YOU. It all comes down to your response. Figure out where they are coming from. Make it clear you understand their concerns and use the facts to defend your business. If you find the need to defend yourself, you are going about this all the wrong way. Remember, set the emotion aside and stick to the facts.
5. #ProtectYourself. Have a strong contract that protects you from those clients who would otherwise abuse your time, your money, your kindness, and your efforts. Having a rock-solid contract makes it easy to clarify exactly what services will be provided and sets boundaries. These boundaries are critical to preserving your passion for your business and sustaining the motivation you need to carry on for many years to come. The best part is, an iron-clad contract makes it easy to respond correctly. Rather than reaming your client out, you can easily dissuade clients from hell from escalating their poor behavior by reminding them of a few key terms and conditions of your contract.
These are just a few tips and tricks for taming the beastly clients you may run into along the way. Just keep in mind: Don’t let these people trample your passion for what you do. For more on how to deal with clients from hell, see: http://bit.ly/1n3TtgA