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7 Steps to Managing Difficult Clients

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As an entrepreneur, do you have the problem of dealing with difficult clients that you don’t know how to manage?  I learned early on that it was important to have a game plan in place for when I was dealing with someone who made my job harder than it had to be.

I am sharing some of my tips on how to manage difficult clients below in hopes that they will help you as much as they helped me.

1.) Plan Ahead

Being able to anticipate ahead of time what a client is going to ask for is a great way to avoid a lot of unnecessary back and forth.  This may be tricky for a new client, but if you have a difficult client that has been around awhile, guessing their needs and heading-off complaints and requests can make your life a lot easier.

2.) Have a Detailed Contract in Place with Specific Milestones

Having expectations clearly set out before both you and your client will make it easy to show exactly what you’ve accomplished vs. what the client requested at the beginning of your relationship.  Being able to pick up a piece of paper and say, you clearly asked for this, and I delivered, will be very helpful in situations where a client keeps demanding more time and work from you.

3.) Create a Set Schedule for Client Work

When beginning a client relationship, make sure both you and the client know the exact dates the work is supposed to be delivered.  Just make sure to set a realistic schedule.  Don’t over-promise on what you can deliver or else a difficult client will become a dreaded client.

4.) Send a Weekly Status Report

The key to a difficult client is constant communication.  Taking the time to inform them where you’re at with their project and what you hope to accomplish during the week will keep questions at bay and endear you to those who hired you.

5.) Do What You Say

This goes back to setting appropriate expectations.  If you promise an email every Monday morning, you better be sure to deliver.  Frustrated clients who are already difficult will only strain relations more.

6.) Listen to Your Client

Even if what your client has to say is rude or off base, make sure to listen and think of ways to help the situation.  Ask follow-up questions to make sure you understand exactly what is being asked of you, and what you need to deliver.

7.) Be Open to Feedback

Clients who ask for changes to your work are not trying to be difficult, they just want what they paid for.  When you’re a small business owner and you put your heart and soul into your product, it can feel personal.  But you have to remember that it’s not.  By listening to what your client has to say about your work or product you may even learn how to make it better for the future.

Difficult clients are nobody’s cup of tea, but knowing how to handle them and ward off potentially hostile relations will help take a difficult relationship and turn it into a productive one.  Do you have any tips I didn’t mention?  I’d love to hear your thoughts on the matter.

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October 28th, 2010 at 7:35 am

Posted in Small Business

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