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To those who deal with work from project-to-project, knowing how to deal with different types of clients is a must. While there are ideal clients who make our job so clear-cut, concise and efficient, there are also those whom we could consider slightly more challenging, if not problematic.
Here are eight types of clients and how to deal with them:
#1: The Diplomat
Among the different types of clients, this is the easiest to deal with because they are so used to balancing the good and the bad. Get ready for two to five compliments about your work until you get to the meat of their message.
They are experts at softening the blow and so good at it, you probably won’t really know what hit you until they’re out of your door.
Deal with this type of client with care, and with equal diplomacy if you can. Nip it in the bud by not taking the compliments too seriously until you’ve heard the full reportage.
Once they are able to deliver the real message they were trying to get across, deal with it head on. Show them that you have no problem taking criticism, and that you would do anything to make them happy if their requests are reasonable/ within your skill set.
#2: The Eager Beaver
This type of client will be asking for updates every day, or every other day. In fact, they will probably ask for a timeline and a progress report every hour, and will have you on the phone almost 24/7.
While clients have all the right to ask about updates of your work, they need to give you space to work too. Sit down with them regarding timelines and reports. Ask for a compromise and tell them that you will need some time to actually sit and work on the project- in a nice way, of course. Compromise.
Tell them that you can give a timeline for the week and report on it the week after. Whenever you can, you could email reports more frequently. Remind them that you could be trusted and you try to be transparent every time you can.
#3: The Hide and Seeker
This type of client will be there during your first meeting, disappear for the next two to three weeks, then pop up all of a sudden for a site inspection.
Said client will also try to make up for lost time by barraging you with requests and emails upon emails asking about your progress. Expect changes too along the way if the client is not happy.
The only proper way to get through this type of client is to meet with them and get the specifics straight from the onset.
Ask for diagrams and contract specifics so that you have something in writing to hold on to. Ask for the client’s email and give updates weekly even if the client “disappears”.
This way, you can maintain that you did reach out, you had specific agreements, and changes in the plan will also mean additional expenses. Once this is clear with the client and you are given the nod, proceed with the improvements.
#4: The Mafia Boss
Usually, when you have a client who is used to running a big corporation, you need to get used to coursing your messages through a subordinate. It’s easy to worry about what part of the messages gets lost along the way.
It’s best to keep everything on record during these instances. This way, if the client is not happy (the big boss), then you can always refer to your email communications or your minutes of the meeting to track down exactly where, in the exchange, the confusion must have started.
Hang on to this client because if he can afford a team to handle the project, he can probably afford to pay you – but he will have plenty of demands. As long as the demands can still be met with your skill set, and the communication lines are not murky, proceed with the project.
#5: The Lost One
Among the types of clients, the lost one is the hardest to deal with. This is the client that does not know what s/he wants.
If you sense that your client is too detached at first, or if the client seems clueless about the project and its goal, play on your expertise.
Provide some guidance but also don’t forget to set the limits of your services. Be clear from the onset and ask as many questions as you could to find out what your client really wants from you. You might seem overbearing at first but it will save you from a lot of revisions later on. Also, don’t forget to put everything in black and white.
#6: The Slave Driver
This is the client who has complete disregard of your working hours and weekends, and the one who expects you to work over the holidays.
Some of them are willing to pay more than others but, believe me, they will bleed you dry with their high expectations.
Assess if the compensation is worth it, and if your artistic juices can withstand the whip. Do not commit on anything unless you know your soul won’t get crushed in the end.
If it seems like the relationship will just go sour eventually, abort mission.
#7: The Expert
This client will try to impress you with a catch phrase and will try to bring your rates down by showing off on the basics.
S/he will try to make you look like an amateur with statements that, in your 20 years in the business, simply do not make sense.
The only way to deal with this type of client is to nod your head and bring the conversation back to the project. Fight the urge to talk in industry jargon as well because most likely, this will only lead to more miscommunication.
Remember, the expertise of our client is shallow at best. Speak in layman’s terms and try to draw up a clear and concise contract that would protect both you and your client.
#8. The Spam
This client will barrage your email with requests with short messages and instructions, in long, installations.
It is best to wait until the picture or idea is whole before diving into the project. Or at least inform your client that you will be starting on the project already and sudden changes will be difficult (and will cost more). Again, protect yourself with a contract.
Have you encountered other types of clients? How did you deal with them? 🙂
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