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TOPIC: How to Deal with a Difficult Client

How to Deal with a Difficult Client 4 years 2 months ago #1020

  • Sirius
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I have a client. The best way I can describe him without going into too much detail is that he's....difficult. He doesn't want to be involved in the creative discovery portion of the project but then complains that the designs look nothing like he wanted. He has no concept of what is involved in SEO/SEM, yet he demands certain (generic) keywords be at position 1. He has no regard for respecting copyright laws, etc. Just yesterday he got upset because he's launching a new promotion and it's not on the site yet. This was the first I heard of such a promotion. :S

Anyways, I was wondering...how do you deal with difficult clients? What's the worst client you've ever had?

I'd love to hear your horror stories. :woohoo:
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Re:How to Deal with a Difficult Client 4 years 2 months ago #1021

  • Lorenz Lammens
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I've had my share of difficult clients, but always focused on the golden rule: 20% of your clients bring you 80% of your profits.

The example you have given me sounds like you have a client that is not worth keeping. However, a good contract can often resolve these issues.

Discuss with your client beforehand whether he or she wants to be involved in the creative process or not, and explain that designing without consultation can be very expensive (I personally wouldn't accept a client that would want us to design without any indication of what they like in terms of design). Also discuss different SEO packages that clearly detail that keywords will be given a difficulty score, and that cost will be according to difficulty.

That way, each time the client is difficult, you make serious money, and that does sweeten the pill. And the client cannot get annoyed, because the contract and the upfront negotiations clearly discussed the cost attached to his or her style of working. He can either change his style of working, or accept the cost. If the client remains annoyed despite the solutions you offer or the fact that you do work within the scope of a contract, then propose to the client that he or she can get out of the contract providing the bills are settled. You don't want to work with someone who is annoyed with you, that could get bad for word of mouth.

One last thing: when working with a client, make things as simple as possible for your client. The creative discovery process that we employ is simply one where a client discusses with us the websites they like and what it is they like about them. That then gives us an insight in the type of design they want. We create 3 mock-ups that are paid for. If ever a client wouldn't like one of the mocked up designs (which they can request changes to) and decides not to proceed with us, we would simply let them go.
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Last Edit: 4 years 2 months ago by Lorenz Lammens.
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Re:How to Deal with a Difficult Client 4 years 2 months ago #1023

When dealing with a difficult client, is it a good idea to create a contract if one was not created to start with?
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Re:How to Deal with a Difficult Client 4 years 2 months ago #1025

  • Lorenz Lammens
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Hi SageMother,

in the future, always start with a contract, but you probably know that.

When discussing creating a contract with a client you didn't previously have a contract with, be sure to take the history of your working relationship into account. That history will function as the 'verbal contract'. Changing the rules in the midst of a project can lead to unnecessary conflict.

Also impress on your client that a contract protects the client as much as it does protect you. It ensures that the client can hold you to the contract, in terms of cost, projected deadlines and confidentiality clauses.

A contract defines the working relationship and is a positive instrument for all parties involved. It addresses issues that may arise and gives peace of mind.
Always here when you need me. I am the forum administrator and a web designer for Clear Goal Media.
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Re:How to Deal with a Difficult Client 4 years 2 months ago #1032

  • Taggart
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This reminds me of doing some office temp work a couple years ago and listening to the boss deal with difficult clients on the phone. I found her amusing.

She was very assertive, but in that case the clients were trying to get space in a very busy trade show exhibition so it was a seller's market and she didn't have to bend any rules that she didn't want to change for most of the clients.
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Re:How to Deal with a Difficult Client 3 years 9 months ago #2470

I agree with keeping it simple. Make sure it is all in writing and be sure to review the contract thoroughly with the client.
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