15 Types of Difficult Clients And How to Handle Them Effectively!


Every agency has that one client from hell. The one who monopolizes your time, frustrates the entire staff, and makes unreasonable demands.

If you've got more than one, you probably spend 3 out of 4 weekends in office. If we apply the Pareto principle (or 80:20 rule) to the agency-client relationship, 80% of an agency's resources are utilized in managing 20% of its clients.

Two things are crucial here:
  1. If these difficult clients don't generate majority of the revenue, you need to start diverting your resources to the ones who do.

  2. If the difficult ones happen to be your highest billing clients, here are a few useful tips to help you identify and manage them effectively.


 

Mr. I'm Not Really Sure What I Want!

01- Mr. I'm Not Really Sure What I Want!


Characters
  • Constant change of heart;

  • Says one thing on a call but has a completely different opinion in an email an hour later.

Solution
  • Get everything in writing once an approach is decided upon;

  • Reject major course-correction after the fact.


 

Mr. I Assumed This Was Included

02- Mr. I Assumed This Was Included.


Characters
  • Insistence on getting a little bit more out of your team each time you talk;

  • Frequent requests to expand the scope of the project.

Solution
  • Agree to do out-of-scope work only at an added upfront cost.


 

Mr. I Needed This Done Yesterday!

03- Mr. I Needed This Done Yesterday!


Characters
  • General lack of awareness of the space-time continuum;

  • Belief that simply having ideas means work is completed.

Solution
  • Be straightforward.... if they expect the impossible, educate them to reality.


 

Mr. Everything's an Emergency!

04- Mr. Everything's an Emergency!


Characters
  • Firmed belief that he is the only client you could possibly have and therefore is deserving of 100% of your time.

Solution
  • Establish clear time tables and meet all deadlines so you can show the client everything is on track;

  • Remind them that you do have other clients.


 

Mrs. We Don't Have a Deadline...Oh, Wait... Yes We Do & It's Tomorrow!

05- Mrs. We Don't Have a Deadline...

...Oh, Wait... Yes We Do & It's Tomorrow!

Characters
  • Flightiness... often in terms of being out of the corporate loop.

Solution
  • Agree on a timeline as soon as possible;

  • Remain confident on rejecting requests that will endanger deadlines or projects for other clients.


 

Mr. I Don't Really Care, Just Do Whatever You Want!

06- Mr. I Don't Really Care, Just Do Whatever You Want!


Characters
  • Completely hands-off approach;

  • Lack of key information even pressed for it.

Solution
  • Take advantage of freedom this client provides, but always require client buy-in at critical stages to head off major reworking.


 

Mrs. I Care So Much... That It Hurts

07- Mrs. I Care So Much... That It Hurts!


Characters
  • Comes to the table with an extremely specific approach with little room for your ideas... so much that you begin to wonder why she hired you at all.

Solution
  • Be clear on what she is trying to accomplish;

  • Don't be afraid to frankly tell her when her approach won't work.


 

Ms. I Don't Know What I Want...  But I Know It Isn't That!

08- Ms. I Don't Know What I Want... But I Know It Isn't That!


Characters
  • She may not know what she wants, but she certainly knows what she doesn't want.... and it's probably everything you're proposing.

Solution
  • This moving target has potential to cause a lot of headache for your team;

  • It might be best to put out the "no vacancy" sign for this client.


 

Mr. Will This Cost Extra?

09- Mr. Will This Cost Extra?

aka, Mr. I Emptied My Bank Account for This!

Characters
  • Penny-pinching... bean counting or whatever you want to call it;

  • This client is extremely concerned about the budget... to the letter.

Solution
  • Agree upfront on the scope of the project;

  • If they can't pony up more cash for the extras they want... you just can't do it.


 

Mr. What's a Weekend?

10- Mr. What's a Weekend?


Characters
  • Sending emails at 3 am every day;

  • Scheduling meetings for after business hours;

  • Wondering why you didn't complete that project on Christmas Day.

Solution
  • Don't be afraid to say "NO" if what they want will take too much of a toll on your staff.



 

Ms. I Hate That Colour... for No Reason!

11- Ms. I Hate That Colour... for No Reason!


Characters
  • Propensity for latching onto a small feature, colours, font or words in a project and bringing work to a grinding halt as a result.

Solution
  • Don't ask their favourite colours... ask what they want to accomplish;

  • Display your expertise by recommending options that achieve those goals;

  • If they're still unhappy, consider dumping them.


 

Mrs. Won't This Take Five Minutes?

12- Mrs. Won't This Take Five Minutes?