Spot Problem Clients - Have Positive Projects

This article explores common warning signs from things clients say and discusses how to resolve these in a positive manner.

“I need this urgently!” – If this client’s expectation is met then they will think the designer will act with urgency on their future work. Ensure that the client is made fully aware that urgency is extra and not normal effort. Provide two quotes – one for the extra effort required for the rush job and one for an ordinary non-urgent job. Explain that over-time is charged extra, bumping other in-progress jobs costs extra. Seeing the financial difference their disorganization makes to their bottom line could bring the client in line.

“I’ve got lots of future work planned and friends who’ll give you more work too so give me a discount.” – This client wants the large project discount on their small job. They are trying to make themselves a more attractive client in order to extract more from the designer. The reality is that future work rarely happens. The client will expect the same cheap rate on all future work. If they do refer any of their friends then they expect their friends will also get the same cheap rate. The client might also expect additional benefits for the referrals. Suggest building a relationship with the new client first by working on the first couple of projects then reassessing the situation. Suggest that if the relationship is working well then future work can be dealt with by placing the designer on a retainer. Explain that retainer has the advantage of letting them budget easier.

“I’ll know what I want when I see it” – This client lacks a clear idea of what they are want. Expect this client to want a lot of revisions. They will be unhappy and will refuse to pay more on a fixed price job until they have exactly what they want. Uncover the client’s true needs through more discussion. The client might have difficulty finding the words to describe what they mean so make suggestions. Try and get on their wavelength. Contain the amount of revision rounds by being clear in the brief that the quote only covers two rounds of revisions and that further revisions will be charged for at a particularly hourly rate. Most clients will reign in the revisions because they are become aware that it’s not worth the extra money. Some clients will be happy to pay more.

“I can see what I want in my head” – This client will art direct the designer to death and complain when the concept does not match their vision. The positive way to handle this client is to suggest they sketch as much as they can to guide the designer. Discuss with the client that the designer can only interpret what they are told and that will look different to what the client has in mind. Reassure the client that the work will represent the message to the audience. Ensure that the brief is clear about the number of revisions included in the quoted price.

“It’s great, but it doesn’t express me!” – This client has mistaken their own persona as the message that should be delivered to their audience. Be careful because their ego is at stake here. Focus them on the real message their business is trying to represent and hopefully they will see how their persona might distract from that message.

Spotting the warning signs early means project can become positive experiences.

(If you like this article then you may also enjoy: The Client is NOT Always Right)

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