Dealing with an Irritating Client

February 23, 2010

The phone rings at 8am … It’s them. The phone rings again at noon … It’s them. The phone rings after lunch … It’s them.

Again, right in the middle of dinner … Them. Just as you’re turning your computer off for the night … Guess who? That client that won’t leave you alone! What do you do? It’s easy to get frustrated with this type of client; the one who wants to review a new version of their wedding invitation every five seconds or the one who needs a “tweek” to their logo in the middle of the night for some reason. But firing them might not be the answer. Consider this a lesson in patience, and business. Let’s look at the situation from the perspective of the client. They’ve just started their business, or they’re going to get married in a few weeks. Perhaps they just launched a new nonprofit or their child is graduating from college. Whatever the case may be, they’re probably embarking on a new journey (no matter how small it may seem to us), and they’re full of anticipation on what you’re going to create. More importantly, they want everything to work out perfectly, and your piece of the puzzle is no exception. This client wants nothing more than to be kept in the loop and given some sense of control over the situation. They want to make the right decisions and want everyone to see their project with approval and admiration. When looking at it from that perspective, you can see why they would be nervous about a design or antsy about the progress, so giving the client the benefit of the doubt is helpful. At the same time, no client should over step his or her boundaries. If you allow your clients to call in the middle of the night, they will continue to do so … later and later and later still. If you allow them to interrupt dinner and family time with last-minute meetings and never ending consultations, they will take that time over and over again from you. Setting limitations and sticking to them is important, especially as a freelancer where you work from home and your hours are flexible. Make it clear that you have office hours and say when they start and stop. Also, keep your client clearly informed of the progress of the design on a regular basis. Every couple of days, shoot them an e-mail or leave a voicemail that says where you left off and how much time is left until a final draft can be reviewed. In the meantime, if there is anything that you can assign to the client such as an approval of a portion of the design or the creation of alternate text for comparison will give them something to focus on other than you and your progress.

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