Every agency has that one client from hell – the one who monopolizes your time, frustrates the entire staff, and makes unreasonable demands. If you’ve got more than one, you probably spend three out of four weekends in office. If we apply the Pareto principle (or 80:20 rule) to the agency-client relationship, we can conclude that 80% of an agency’s time and productivity goes into handling 20% of its clients.
Two things are crucial here. Firstly, if these 20% clients don’t generate 80% of the revenue, you need to start diverting your resources to the ones who do. Secondly, if these difficult clients are the ones who pay the most, here are a few tips to help you recognize and handle them effectively to improve overall productivity.
Which of these clients do you meet often? Find some tips below on how best to deal with them.
Get clear on issues of time: Many of the archetypes of the difficult customer center around clients’ relationships to time. Sometimes the issues center of the “everything is an emergency” syndrome. In other cases, it’s an inability to effectively manage deliverables or deadlines. Be clear on your clients’ expectations and their internal processes that might affect timeframes.
Use data collection at multiple junctures in the client lifecycle: Data collection is a critical feedback loop to making sure that you’re hitting your targets and over delivering in your business. Use data collection to help you understand a customer’s needs prior to taking them on. This will help you design a process and delivery plan to serve them well, and will help you avoid taking on projects that won’t go well.
Design a customer screening tool: Developing a customer screen that helps you really understand customer needs will help you implement more efficient systems in your business. What types of businesses or individuals do these potential clients serve? How do they quantify the value of what you do to their business, including to their bottom line? What aspects of your service are most important to them – time, attention to detail, the ability to connect with an account manager or expert consultant?
The more granular you can become about their expectations, the more effectively you can meet them. You can also screen out potential clients with expectations you’re unable or unwilling to meet. Make your screen mobile friendly to give potential customers browsing your site from any device the opportunity to respond.