Five Simple Steps For Healthy Client Relationships
One thing you’ll keep hearing over and over is that clients are from hell. There’s even a website that documents horror stories about clients wanting to take charge of the design world by creating things like double sided PDFs. When you hear the message that it’s ‘the client’s fault’ repeated a thousand times, it’s easy to start believing it. But the truth is that nearly all clients are good. We just make them bad because we don’t know how to work with them.
After a particularly difficult client meeting a few years ago, I made a video about five simple steps we can follow to keep our client relationships healthy. I watched it recently and it still rings true today.
- Be honest and nice. These things are not opposites. You can tell your client the truth and still be nice about it.
- Start with a clean slate. Don’t set yourself up for failure with new clients by assuming they’re just like the last ones.
- Keep your commitments. You may create a false sense of urgency by over-promising. If something’s going to get difficult, you always have the option to renegotiate.
- Address issues early on. If you’re not sure what to do, say that. Then give yourself time to research the best approach. Let clients know you’re on their side.
- Communicate constantly. If you leave a void, the client will fill it up with assumptions and they will try to take control.
Clients don’t give you $30,000 and then try to sabotage the project. Clients don’t want to drive. They just want to win.
These five steps have worked for us at nGen and we’ve been getting lots of questions recently about how to keep communication with clients feeling good. I’ve been chatting with Gene Crawford about similar issues on our podcast, BizCraft. If you want to find out about upcoming podcasts, just follow me on Twitter. If there’s something you’d like us to address on the show you can submit your question here.
Whenever we’re dealing with a difficult client situation, one thing we need to ask ourselves is, are they really clients from hell, or are we being the company from hell? Care to share any stories about things you’ve done right or wrong with clients?