How to Deal With Difficult or Problematic Clients

Photo by Jcomp on Freepik

When it comes to running a business, whether you just started off or have been offering a service or selling a product for a while, there will be situations where you’ll come across difficult clients.

I mean it’s not possible for anybody to be in a line of business and be able to entirely avoid negative or non-cooperative clients or customers. Some people call such clients as a ‘necessary evil’ because it’s like you can’t live them and you can’t live without them.

We always have to go through something bad or negative in the world in order to filter out or recognize the good, and the same applies to clients.

So today we’ll be talking about some helpful and effective ways to deal with these difficult clients in ways that do not hurt your business but at the same time do not hurt anybody else’s business so that the image of your business or your own image as a service provider does not get spoiled.

Does that sound like a win-win situation? Yes! So let’s get started.


Develop a system of co-creation with your clients

The first strategy that I have for you, and this is particularly relevant if you are a creative professional such as a web designer or a graphic designer, is to develop a mindset and work system of co-creation with your clients.

You see in many instances, your client might be having a hard time understanding why you charge what you charge for what you do. They might be thinking that your job is really super easy and maybe it shouldn’t cost so much money. And especially if the service that you offer is something of a creative nature, such as copywriting or web designing, they wouldn’t understand what’s the big deal in making changes to the design or copy that you create, if they don’t like the first draft or design that you come up with. And they feel compelled to ask for endless tweaks in your work or design, without factoring in the extra time, cost and effort required for that on your part. This could become a real problem when you haven’t budgeted for the change in scope or number of revisions that the client keeps demanding from you.

So the way to resolve such an issue is to deal with your client as a co-creator of the work that you do with them from the get-go. The thing is, times are changing and creative jobs are now becoming part of the c-suite levels in companies, and these people really want to be part of the design process. This was not the case in the olden days when there was a secretive genius designer or creative person who’d be left alone to come up with his own creativity alone. These days, everybody in the client’s company probably wants to be involved with your work when they know that a particular job has been outsourced to you.

So if you don’t involve them in the process from the beginning, they might keep on asking you to make changes to cater to everybody’s choice and requirements in their company, until they are all satisfied and feel like the money that their company paid to you was really worth it. So you really have to to open yourself up to working partnerships with your clients or client’s company.


Agree on a specific point of contact

Moving on, the second strategy you can use with potentially difficult clients is to agree with them on a specific contact from the start. Now like I mentioned in the previous point, at times when a company signs you up for a particular job, every employee in the company might want to get involved in telling you the requirements from their side and, even when you do want to satisfy everybody in order to accomplish success in the project, getting too much feedback from all directions or from too many people at the same time might become chaotic and a cause of headache for you.

So what you need to do is to establish upon a specific person to be the point of contact between you and your client company. Whatever anybody from that company needs to convey to you should be passed on to you by that one specific person. This really helps in streamlining the flow of work, because when you’re dealing directly with only one person, they will convey to you all the requirements in their specific style. And there will be less confusion, more speed and more satisfaction for both parties.


Establish clear decision-making criteria

Just like it’s important to agree upon who’s going to be your point of contact with the client company, it is also important to decide and agree upon from the start who is going to be making the big and final decisions on the project from the client’s side. Not only that, it also needs to be written down and agreed upon what criteria they are going to be using to make the decision about whether the project is successful or not.

This helps is keeping the client reminded that the decision regarding the success of a project should always be based on strategy and not purely on things like aesthetics for instance (if you’re dealing with a creative design project).

When the client is able to realize that and combine their aesthetic preferences with a strategic approach, the project is able to run smoothly from your end and eventually provide the benefit to the client as well that they’re looking for from their end.


Always over deliver

The next tip is to always over deliver. And the trick is to actually over deliver in all possible ways, which means you over deliver in the product that you’re presenting, you over deliver in the customer service that you’re giving, and you also over deliver in terms of your communication with the client through out the course of the project.

How does that help? Well of course now that is going to make it easy for your client to stay a good client towards you from the beginning till the end. And when that happens, they are likely to recommend you to other businesses and other co-workers down the line.

And this is obviously very good for your business because you know that word-of-mouth marketing is the best marketing that you can ever get in order to grow your business.


That’s all for today, so go ahead and apply these strategies to not just the difficult clients but to any new client that you come across, and here’s me wishing you best wishes for the success of your business.

Sana Uqaili

Sana Uqaili is a professional content creator and a strategic marketing adviser, who started off as a freelance copywriter and pass time blogger, and ended up offering her services as a full-fledged business in early 2019. Her ghostwriting contributions and digital marketing tactics have enhanced the Google rankings of various publications and corporate websites. Her passion for writing peaked in late 2019, when she started this site called Opinined. In 2020, she also started podcasting from her home during quarantine, and was able to gain great traction on her podcast channel during the global lockdown.

Leave a Reply