Coping with Nightmare Clients

There are some clients that are just unreasonable, and they will never be satisfied. There are also some clients who are not willing to pay for the work.

I have roughly 9 years of experience in Graphic Design and Web Development. I’ve seen many types of clients in this time – I bet if I slowed down and gave it just a little thought – I could tell you about the clients that were an absolute pleasure to work with. I don’t think I’d need to give that much thought to which clients were, completely and utterly, a pain to work with. In fact, we’ll title these types of clients by the phrases they use, I’m sure you’ll be able to fit at least one of your clients into each of these nightmare client types.

1.) “You’ll just have to bear with me in the beginning, just until I start generating income.”, “I can bring you more business – I know many people who need design work done.”

Really? If they are hoping, the same way you are, that I can survive and work based on “a promise” – you are out of your mind.

Designers are often reluctant to work with clients who do not pay them. They want to know that they will be compensated for their time and effort before they start working on a project.

Before you decide to take on a client, consider the situation from their perspective and what it is worth to them. It could be the best investment you have ever made in your career if it leads to more referrals or other future opportunities for design work.

2.) “How much do you charge for a website?”

Just give this question a little more thought. How often do you walk into a car dealership and ask “How much for a car?”, or walk into a restaurant, sit down and ask the waiter “How much for food?”. I’m pretty sure you have never done either of those.
A website doesn’t come shrink-wrapped in hard, shiny plastic, straight off of the shelf at the Website Store.
There are so many factors that need to be discussed before you can receive your quotation. When you first approach a designer, offer your project details before enquiring about costs, and you’ll get a more thoughtful, accurate estimate.

3.) “Can you make it look exactly like this?” [while showing you work done by another designer]

No.
Did you pick me for your design work because you thought that all my experience, I’ve gained, was through copying other people’s work? If you’ve picked me because you like the way I design my own artwork, then point out what you like about “John Doe’s” artwork, and I’ll keep that in mind.

Unfortunately, when a designer works with a client, the design is not their own. In-house designers are lucky because they can design whatever they want. However, when people work with clients they have to take into consideration what their client likes and what their client’s target market likes.

How to avoid an unpleasant relationship between you and your clients

Designers are often faced with clients who have no idea what they want and are not able to provide any input or feedback. This is a nightmare for designers. They have to work with clients who only know what they don’t want, but can’t give any constructive feedback on what they do want.

The client is the one who has the final say in the design process, and if they are not satisfied with the end result, then it’s back to square one. In order to avoid this situation, it is important for designers to take their time and be patient when working with clients. They should try their best to understand what the client wants before creating anything else for them so that there isn’t any confusion or miscommunication in the future.

Coping with difficult clients is a common problem for all types of professionals. It’s easy to get frustrated and angry when you’re dealing with a difficult client. However, the key is to remain calm and collected in order to be able to come up with a solution to the problem.

Some individuals find it helpful to develop a list of coping strategies that they can use when dealing with difficult clients. They might include things like:

  • Taking time out from the conversation
  • Talking about the issue with an outside party
  • Calling for backup help (e.g., another co-worker)
  • Speaking in an assertive, calm voice
  • Reminding oneself that this person has problems too

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