Difficult Clients Are Still Your Clients

posted in: Freelancing | 11

Difficult Clients Are Still Your Clients
We all have clients and as with anything in life they come in all shapes and sizes – some clients are great, some are just everyday-type clients. Unfortunately, sometimes we find ourselves knee-deep in a relationship with a client that we wish we’ve avoided.

The topic of dealing with bad clients (or “clients from hell”) has been beaten to death by freelancers and business owners in general. I’ve talked about it on this blog as well (turned out to be the most popular article to date – just look in the Popular Posts section).

The subject is fascinating partly because we’re just curious to learn what others have gone through. And gosh, do we learn about some horror stories.

We think we are vigilant and screen our prospects well, but sometimes we misjudge or don’t bother to look deep enough or are just too tired and let our guards down

… and then we pay.

We get frustrated, waste time/resources, we doubt our abilities and ultimately we loose money. We don’t deliver our best & we certainly don’t enjoy the work. When relationships go sour everyone looses.

What if that didn’t have to be?

Dealing with difficult clients is freelancer’s reality so it’s best to be prepared for when the situation occurs and attack it head on.

Whether it’s a client who constantly changes their requirements or one delaying payments, you still need to give your best because of your own integrity and desire to deliver a high quality product and experience for your client. Your success depends on your service and while complaints are reality of any business you can’t afford having your reputation damaged by dissatisfied clients.

Communication is key. Being professional, respectful and polite can go a long way. Your goal is to get back on track, so take a step back and re-evaluate, ask questions, clarify. Get your own ego in check and look at the situation from your client’s perspective. Don’t go around assigning blame but rather look for solutions.

Bite the bullet and try to work things out because that’s really the only good way out of the situation. Your success depends on your best service so do your best to provide it, regardless of the situation.

11 Responses

  1. Great attitude! Clients will drive you nuts because, after all, clients are people. And all of us at some point are a customer of someone else.
    Sometimes the best we can hope for is a graceful bow, and exit stage left.

    And a story to post on Clients From Hell!

  2. Exactly! Communication is a two way street so there’s little point in pointing the finger – instead I suggest we focus on what we can learn from the experience and move on.

  3. Hello Joanna,
    It is really tough dealing with difficult clients. But we should also focus on our key clients.If those difficult clients fall into our key clients category(those that give is most business/other reasons)we have to find a way out.But otherwise we have to see that 80% of our business generally comes from only 20% of our clients.So our focus should be on those 20% of our clients.

  4. Regardless of the type of client we have, what’s important is that we treat them professionally. At the end of the day, they are still our clients and without them, our business will fall.

  5. 80/20 is key and will cut down on the amount of frustrating clients. The biggest problem most small businesses have with clients is that they don’t know who they really work best with. If you clearly define a niche, go after them with reckless abandon, then you will usually work with better clients. It is when we try to do everything and be everything to everyone, that frustration enters the picture. Couple that with poor communication, and you have a recipe for disaster. But I think we all still have the not-so-fun client every once in a while. Good stuff.

  6. Completely agree, Nick.
    This topic often leads to heated debates but one thing remains true: handle things the way they works for you! If you can work those difficult relationships that’s great, as they can often lead to better and bigger projects. If you prefer to walk away to avoid “Wasting time” that’s ok too, but make sure to learn from your mistakes.

  7. One thing I rarely hear about is how to turn a difficult client into a good one. I’ve worked with a few difficult ones and having a very frank and honest talk with a few of them helped them see the problems they were causing me. They also pointed out things I could improve that I never noticed. Now we are on good terms and I’m happy to work with them.

    Like you said Joanna, do what works best for you.

  8. Difficult clients are not all the same. In some cases it is simply that there’s a failure in communication and you need to find a way to talk it through and maybe even see it from their viewpoint. Others are difficult because they are under some kind of pressure from their boss or business – often there are creative ways of using this to ones advantage. The worse kind are simply difficult and disagreeable people who – whatever one does – will stay that way until they eventually manage to take the business elsewhere. Sometimes even key accounts can fall in the latter category and one is simply forced to manage the situation – sometimes over years – as best as one can. That can make life miserable! I know because I was an account director for a telecoms company and it happened all the time 🙂

  9. You bring out a good point. I think failure to properly communicate and stay focused can be vary common in business.

  10. Clients bring in money so better take care of them. No matter how difficult they are to deal with they still bring revenues to the company..So its always important to be patient.

  11. I agree with this article. They are still your clients!

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