Our topic for today is a different client approach!
Anyone who’s ever worked at an agency, as a freelancer, or with people at all, really – knows how difficult it is to manage clients and cater to their individual needs. Clients always come in different shapes and sizes, with unique personalities, priorities, brand strategies, creative tastes, and budgets.
For this reason, there is no one-size-fits-all approach to managing clients. No two clients are the same. In order to properly satisfy each of them, you need to cater your approach to their unique needs. Understandably, failing to do so could hurt your client retention rates. So, let’s begin.
First of all, how many types of clients are there?
Here’s the thing: The number is not written in stone and there are several types of classification. There is no scientific consensus on one fixed number of client types. That’s why this article covers all popular types from different frameworks.
It will give you an overview of the most useful findings and ways you can group your customers. Here are some of the most common personalities and some tips for how to profile your clients and then use different client approaches. All that without sacrificing productivity – or your sanity!
Different Client Approach: When Everything’s An Emergency
We have all been in situations like this. Someone thinks everything is urgent and should be given utmost priority. This type of client is a firm believer that they are the only client you possibly have. Therefore, they are deserving 100 percent of your time.
Every self-employed professional who works on a project basis has had the experience of clients who need something “yesterday.” A small business client won’t contact her graphic designer about a flyer until a week before she needs it. Sounds familiar? All of a sudden, these demanding clients expect you to magically do your job in half the time required, regardless of your other workload or your personal commitments.
How to deal with them?
First of all, to avoid getting into this situation, you can begin every client relationship with a discussion of expectations – yours and theirs. You should let your clients know your working hours, and how available you are for new projects. Professionals who are good at what they do are always in demand, so don’t be afraid. You won’t scare your clients off by letting them know you’re busy.
Second, you can’t let your clients manage your business. Instead, you need to manage your clients. This problem usually begins when a client makes an impossible request, and you drop everything to deliver what he or she needs. The client thinks you are a star and gives you more business. And that’s the problem.
Every time you meet clients’ unreasonable deadlines, they expect you will continue to do so. Why should they bother to plan ahead if you manage to get it done for them anyway? Don’t make the mistake of thinking that this method of operating is the best way to keep your clients happy. This strategy will eventually backfire. When the day finally comes that you can’t meet the expected deadline, your client will feel let down.
Different Client Approach: Mr. I’m Not Really Sure What I Want
You know this type of client very well. They are the ones with constant change of heart. You agree on one thing on your phone and the same person says a completely different opinion in an e-mail an hour later. So what different client approach to use here?
How to deal with them?
The real problem with a lot of problem-solving is rarely in the methods we use or in the people we involve (or exclude). Too often, we are solving the wrong problem in the first place.
If you are an expert at something, and a client hires you to do your expert-thingy, it is your job to know what the client doesn’t know that he or she doesn’t know.
If you can take the client from “not knowing what they don’t know” via “understanding what they don’t yet know” and ending up in “knowing what they know, and what to do,” you are much more likely to actually have worked on the right problem. And your client is hopefully more satisfied, even if the journey was a bit rockier and took slightly longer than expected.
Defining and agreeing upon what problem you are actually solving is a key step — where, sadly, too many endeavors fail. Therefore, if you want to sharpen your competitive edge, learn to listen. Shut your mouth, and then listen some more. Ask questions. And more questions. Draw, sketch, do anything that brings you as close as possible to actually reading your client’s mind.
Then, hopefully, your project will result in your clients exclaiming, “This is exactly what I imagined! You are a mind reader!”
Different Client Approach: When They Change Their Mind Frequently
Designers will probably know this one. Sometimes, you meet clients who keep changing their minds about the design they want you to make and therefore force you to redo your work. This is such a pain in the neck because this usually means all your hard work will go to waste. Fortunately, there are some ways and different client approaches that will help you work with this type of client.
How to deal with them?
#1 Have them sign a contract
A contract should be a no-brainer, especially if you are working on a big project. The contract should say that any additional work pushed to you by the client because he or she has changed his mind should come with additional pay unless your design is not yet done and the additional task does not mean a major revision on your design. This will encourage your clients to tell you everything they want to see in your work and not forget anything or else they will pay extra money.
#2 Understand your clients limitations
You have to look at the issue from your client’s perspective. Is it just a case of your client seeing the final result and realising that something is missing; something vital they didn’t even realize they needed till this point? There is a case here to argue for extra funding to undertake the additional work. If it’s simple and will take little time then by all means change it for free, should you wish. Beyond that, all other things being equal, it makes sense to work out a rate for the additional work.
Different Clients Approach: When They Disappear For Weeks
If you’ve been freelancing for any length of time, you likely have had a client disappear mid-project, leaving you wondering what the heck is going on and stuck where you’re unable to move the project forward. You probably reached out by email and by phone multiple times and when you received no response, you grew frustrated with the complete disrespect and lack of regard for your time as each new day passed.
Unresponsive clients are the most challenging clients because there isn’t a conflict to resolve or a problem to solve. There’s just a missing client and no information as to why they disappeared. And, without the proper provisions in your contract, your freelance business doesn’t have a clear path of action to deal with the missing client and you’re left holding the bag, twiddling your fingers, and waiting for the client to finally show up again — most likely at the very worst time.
How to deal with them?
The different client approach in this situation would be to block a sneak attack by being prepared. Include termination clauses in your contract that dictate exactly what will happen if a client disappears and becomes unresponsive, how the project will be impacted, and what the ultimate result will be if they disappear for too long.
While this type of clause is often used in retainer contracts for ongoing design and development, where a contract may expire after 12 months with an option to renew, you can also use this clause to put a limit on how long a project can sit once specific milestones are met.
Never despair! When dealing with a challenging client, the goal should always be to re-engage the client, keep the project moving forward, and finish it off strong. That means regular check-ins by phone and email, positive reminders of the contract clauses, and offering support. Then some listening and asking questions. And then asking some more questions. You can rarely go wrong with a different client approach.
But remember, even if that doesn’t do the trick, you always have cancellation and expiration clauses in your contracts to fall back on.
That’s all folks. Until next time!