Advice on Managing Difficult Clients

Asking questions on Social Media

I had to scrap today’s regularly scheduled blog post.

Why? Well, something kinda cool happened yesterday: A question I asked on the Arment Dietrich’s Facebook Page was featured as the Facebook Question of the week. If you aren’t familiar with AD’s blog, Spin Sucks, I suggest you add it to your daily reading. And if you missed my F.B.Q.O.T.W., you can view it here.

Gini’s advice, as always, was really helpful. What really struck me, though, was the wealth of knowledge that her readers shared…AND their willingness to share it.

 

I walked away with ideas for KBK. Ideas that I’m really going to implement.

Below, is a compilation of some of my favorite comments.

At the end of the day you want to do business with people who want to do business with you; people who appreciate the value you bring. If you don’t have that relationship you are no more than a vendor so there is merit to cleaning out 10% of your book every year. – Bill Dorman

I think one good technique is to get clients reinvested in their own goals and deadlines. One reason this is effective is you will find out if those goals and deadlines have changed. Assuming they have not, you can then (diplomatically) show how the lack of follow through is preventing you from achieving those things on their behalf. “We just want to clarify what you are hoping to achieveā€¦ Great, we can do that for you but here’s what we need from you..” and so on. -Adam Toperek

Clear expectations are a MUST, as are deadlines and updates. I find that each client is different. So now, before we begin the meat of the work, I give them a client profile and determine how often they want updates and meetings with me, what their expectations are, their willingness to be on camera, availability, etc., their ‘point person” if they are not available, and in turn set the tone for what they have to do and what I have to do. -Erica Allison

I’ve worked with a lot of associations, and “committees”, like @KenMueller a conglomeration of clients. I’ve learned to include a section in my proposal and then my contract, that states what we need from them; Our expectations. I always say we need one responsive point person, etc. I will outline deliverables, and estimated time needed from them for us to be able to do our jobs. It’s worked very well, and educates them up front that just because they hired PR, does not mean that they will be able to cross it off THEIR to-do list. -Lisa Gerber

For me, it gets down to two things 1) Managing expectations; and 2) Being willing to have ongoing, direct discussions between client and agency. Too many agencies build unrealistic expectations on the part of their clients because they’re unwilling to have direct discussions from the get-go. To the point in your video, have the guts to outline “Here’s what you can expect from us,” as well as “Here’s what we need from you in order to do the best job for you.” Meet with clients at least quarterly, NOT on the subject of the communications campaign, but about the relationship and in particular, the client’s view of the agency’s performance, how you can better deliver Five-Star Client Service to them and, what you need from them to do so. @RepmanCody not only insists on regular agency “report card” meetings, but puts this into the contract. This guarantees that the agency always knows if f the agency is meeting/exceeding client expectations, and gives the agency a chance to share how the client can help the agency do a better job. -Ken Jacobs

We are a client of a company (Angel Vision) that I think does a GREAT job of dealing with this up front. They make very clear what they consider a “good client” to be. They lay it out in an agreement (things like, all people contributing will be on these calls, or you’ll turn things around within x period of time etc.) and then provide a “Good Client Discount.” Now, I know that their real fee is what they’re charging me after the “discount,” but I got to tell you a feel more commitment to get things done for them. After all, we all like to get rewarded for what we’re supposed to do any way, don’t we? -Doug Davidoff

In the intrest of keeping this post to a reasonable length, I couldn’t post all of my favorites. So, again, I encourage you to jump on over to the original post and read through the comments.

 

Question: What would you add? What management techniques have you used, that have worked? Share your comments below.

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11 comments
ginidietrich
ginidietrich

I feel terrible that I'm just now getting here! I meant to tell you when I saw you the other day that I've gotten a ton of really good comments in LinkedIn, as well. If you're interested in those, I'll copy and paste for you.

bdorman264
bdorman264

Interesting comments; of course, we don't always live in an ideal world so compromises have to be made. Hopefully you do have the fortitude to 'walk away' from situations that are just not a good fit, regardless of the size of the check. Yes, easier said than done at times but in hindsight your gut is usually right.

KensViews
KensViews

Hi Katie,

Honored to be included in your write-up.

kj

janbeery
janbeery

I love All the comments from everyone on the Facebook question on Arment Dietrich's Facebook page. @billdorman I so agree with you on your cleaning out of 10%. Uncooperative clients drain energy and time.
Thank you for all the insightful comments.

EricaAllison
EricaAllison

Hey Smart Lady!

Thanks for including my little quip in this round up. I'm with some really smart cookies- and I LIKE that! :)

It's a learning process for sure, but with friends like these, we can't help but improve, right?

Have a great weekend!

Erica

Katie Gutwein
Katie Gutwein moderator

@bdorman264 "...but in hindsight your gut is usually right." So true. @janbeery always tells me, "Listen to your gut." It may be hard to walk away, but unruly clients can be very harmful to your biz.

p.s. Thanks for stopping by to comment!

Katie Gutwein
Katie Gutwein moderator

@KensViews Thanks for commenting, Ken. I think the advice you shared is really great, and a lot of people and organizations (present party included) can benefit from it :)!

bdorman264
bdorman264

@janbeery Hey, I am good for something.........wait 'til I tell everybody..............:)

Katie Gutwein
Katie Gutwein moderator

@EricaAllison What's that quote...you know, something along the lines of: "You're only as good as people you surround yourself with." That speaks to your point about this being a learning process, and with friends like these, we can't help but improve!

As I was reading through all of the comments, yesterday, I thought to myself, "Holy cow, this is like a business consultation...from a lot of really smart cookies. I need to write this stuff down!"

And so I did...and of course, I had to share it with others!

You have a great weekend, as well!

janbeery
janbeery

@bdorman264 Ha, We'll help get the word out for you! ;)

Just confirms why cleaning house is such a good idea. Walking away when it's not a good match will help put focus in the right direction! We're more productive if we don't have to resort to cocktail hour too soon bc of difficult clients! It's a win win!