Working with a not so perfect Client

What makes a client ‘difficult’ to work with?  Are they really hard to please or is that your perception?  Maybe they work well with others but your organisation can’t seem to make it gel?

If you perceive your client to be difficult it is likely this will show in the actions and language used with the client.  This will affect your business, for research shows that one happy customer tells two people and one unhappy customer tells ten people.

A trait of a good leader is to know how to take difficult client relationships and turn them into effective ones.  So we need to embrace our clients and make the most out of each interaction.

In the spirit of working collaboratively with our clients Happening People give you a helping hand with our TOP 5 on Working with a not so perfect client.

  1. Discuss expectations
    Contracts have been signed and now it’s time to get down to business.  Before you do anything your first conversation with your ‘new client’ needs to be setting expectations, just like you do with a new employee.  Document this conversation as it will essentially be your ‘rules of engagement’.  These guidelines are a great way of keeping the relationship on track when the road gets a little bumpy.
  2. Understand where they are coming from
    A client can appear to be difficult for a number of reasons, maybe they are projecting previous client relationships on to this one or maybe they didn’t anticipate the complexities of working with your organisation.  It could simply be they feel they are not being understood.  Take the time to really listen to your client, asking lots of open questions and approach them from a position of understanding.
  3. Educate the client
    No two organisations or individuals operate the same.  They all have their own issues; they have policies and procedures, legacy systems and internal politics.   Your role is to not only complete the scope of work you and your client have agreed to you, must also help them navigate interactions with various departments in your organisation.  If you work freelance this may seem simpler if your client is solely working with you alone but it is best not to skip this step even in its simplest form.
  4. End the interaction on a positive note
    When it comes time to end the relationship with the client due to completion of work or for some other reason, approach the end as carefully as you did the start of the relationship.  Take the time to review the work completed and discuss what worked well and what could have been improved upon.  This can be a difficult conversation to have if the relationship has degraded however there is much to be gained by both parties for having this conversation.  It’s best to have the conversation and try and keep your organisations positive reputation in tact than leave a client disgruntled.
  5. Look for new opportunities
    Sometimes despite your best efforts the relationship is always going to be a less than perfect one.  Provide you and your organisation with the opportunity to opt out of the relationship by looking for new opportunities with new clients. The best piece of advice is to look for early warning signs; it is easier to never enter into a relationship with a client then ending a bad one.

What’s your story?
Tell us about a great client you have had the pleasure of working with!

It doesn’t have to be difficult! Call Happening People on 1800 68 67 69 or go to we’d be happy to discuss how a Corporate Training Program from Happening People can help your people maximise results with your clients.


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