A Guide To Working With ‘Difficult’ Clients

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We love our clients! This indeed is a true statement for without clients, there can be no success or even a business in the first place. However, once in a while a client comes along that is not so easy to work with. For example, there are those who never seem to know what they want. Or how about the guy that stalls forever but then when he does get involved, he wants the project done yesterday? Call them “difficult,” “frustrating,” even  “nightmares.” The bottom line is that these types of people present interesting challenges when trying to work with them.

The good news is that Ciplex has put together the following guide which identifies various characteristics of  clients that are not so easy to work with and then provides some tips on dealing with these personalities without losing your credibility or your client. Check it out and see if you do not currently have one or more clients that fit into any of these personalities.

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A Guide To Working With Those Wonderful Clients


David Wallace
David Wallace, co-founder and CEO of SearchRank, is a recognized expert in the industry of search and social media marketing. Since 1997, David has been... Read Full Bio
David Wallace

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  • Adeel Sami

    Interestingly true. Thanks David for the broad topic you covered well in these info-graphics.

  • Sonja

    I’ve had every single one of those clients. Some of them I’ve dumped, and my life is better off for it.

  • Mike Wheatley

    I’ve had several “Ms I hate that Color for no reason’s” in the past, absolutely horrible experience!

  • Tom

    I love this! So true, well done!

  • Touraj

    We have been fortunate, like many others, to have encountered almost everyone of these Mr/Ms/Mrs, sometimes many-in-one. But instead of being frustrated, we make every effort to educate them. After all, a knowledgeable client is a good client. It is not easy, but at the end, a happy client is the best source of referrals and repeat business.

    • Justin Perkins

      Well said. Always best to keep your cool and think of future business.

    • Ruth Brueshaber

      I agree. I have been in the customer service for 20 some odd years. There is a way into a customers heart no matter what Personality they have. If you try and understand your customer and you give them what they need – yes – they are a happy customer. At the end of the day they know you have their back and you will take care of them – and they can sleep at night.

  • Powers

    Sadly true, and often, clients are several of these rolled into one.

  • Maikeru Sazushima

    OH!! this rings so true on my end as a for-hire SEO ‘monkey’ LOL!

  • Tahir Akbar

    Interesting, very interesting. I needed it badly as owing to my personal engagement with clients, i faced lost of challenges as noted in this piece of informational graph. Good job !!

  • Web Agency Marseille

    Excellent ! Some clients even manage to combine many of these “qualities”.

  • Jonathon

    Great info-graphic. I have had many of these…and sometimes a client displays more than one of these traits which makes it even harder! At least it’s nice to know I am not the only one.

  • Reva

    We all encounter difficult clients at times. It is possible to spot these personalities before you find yourself awake in the middle of the night trying to figure out where the project went wrong. You get an inkling that something’s off during that first proposal meeting, but you want to earn the business and so you immediately start making concessions. I’m learning to trust my gut. The positive impact one good client relationship can have on a business is always better than the negative impact 5 bad clients can have on a business. Sometimes, the best thing you can do is just say “No.”

  • Kevin

    Enjoyed reading this good advice. Some situations can be remedied and improved. There are other times
    when the best course of action is to cut one’s losses and fire the client. I have done this about two dozen times and never regretted a single instance.

  • Guilty

    I’ve been on both the agency and the client side. Unfortunately, coming from an agency background may have molded me into some of these clients… but only on a smaller scale. Only because you know what an agency is capable of and you know the tricks of the trade… you end up with high expectations! I would love to see the flip side of this!

  • Queen of Client Experience

    I too have had the opportunity to work with most (if not all) types of clients you’ve listed. I believe they are people just like ourselves and we forget what its like in their shoes. When I have had to step into a situation to help out – MOST OFTEN, clients just want to be heard, allowed to share their feelings, and then be part of the solution moving forward. I believe a lost talent is for the selling company to take the responsibility in setting and understanding expectations. Our clients don’t know what they don’t know . They come to us for our expertise and guidance!

  • Alex Rascanu

    Thanks for sharing this infographic, David. The suggestions should can come in handy.

  • Laila Leblanc

    I am an editor. One of my clients hasn’t paid me yet, even after delivering the project before the deadline. This client has taken me for granted because I’ve done some pro bono work for her in the past. I don’t need clients like her. This article came in handy…a little late but handy.

  • Julie

    Years ago, we did work for an estate agent (real estate) client and came up against an unusual version of ‘Ms I Hate That Colour for No Reason’… the ‘I Love That Colour; We All Love That Colour; But My Wife Hates That Colour So You’re Going to Have to Change It on Everything You’ve Just Created’.

    In fact, his wife hated it so much she ‘designed’ a new brand by painting over the printed materials we had already created with felt pens and acrylic paint and said I should have no difficulty matching it. This was in the days when Macs were still in the two Steves’ heads and everything was all still done by hand. It took us days to get back to where we were pre-wifely-intervention.

    Character building, I call it.

  • Dennis

    There are some clients that don’t get it after repeated training and continue to ask for special treatment, treat your employees disrespectfully and take to much of your time. Fire them! Life is too short to work with these people.
    Your employees will appreciate it and the bottom line will improve.

  • Akis

    Great infographic. The only type I’m missing is the late-unreliable payer. The guy who will come up with all sorts of excuses to delay or get a discount on the invoice he has to pay. He will break the payment terms, or mention that the project has not been completely delivered yet. These guys re-appear at some point, and then they express utter shock that you want to be paid in advance for the new project.

  • Leo Huisman

    So true! I have also experienced that a good and full personal approach is always the best case scenario to face a worst case scenario, because the personal approach turns customer and supplier into partners in crime….
    Most of these customer problems deal with deadlines, and I advise to be realistic about your delivery capacities at all times; sometimes we tend to reduce the delivery time just to make sure we land the deal, and then get ourselves in big trouble because the plant manager cannot deliver on time….our fault completely!!
    Open cards on the table from the start is my method and it works most of time!! Sometimes it’s better to lose a deal than gain a problem

  • Ruby Jane

    I had fun reading this. Indeed, the customer is always “right,” but it doesn’t mean you shouldn’t make an effort to make them see the “right way.”

    In the end, in dealing with all sorts of clients – whether difficult or not -is to be honest and straightforward from the start especially about the work scope, their expectations and your expectations.

    Simply put, communication, communication, communication…and put everything in writing. 😀

  • phil

    Talk about difficult clients, I learned it the hard way, I didnt sign contract with my very first client after statring my company, it took me two months to finish the website that I thought I would finish in one day. Simple five pages websites, but the clients kept asking to change the website all the time.