Collaboration is possible only if both sides – client and an agency – have a full understanding of each other’s wants and needs if communication is clear and goals are well defined. Sometimes, however, service providers come across difficult clients which make them want to run customer profitability analysis just so they can justify cutting the ties and ending a devastating professional relationship.
In order to have a meaningful collaboration, a client – as well as an agency – must fit a certain profile, and that is why we will introduce you to three major groups of customer profitability analysis:
- ones you should wholeheartedly accept;
- ones that will make you weigh pros and cons when considering collaboration;
- ones that should be avoided if possible.
Still, you should keep in mind that initial impression will not always reveal person’s true profile, so taking on a client that can prove to be unbearable down the line is a realistic possibility.
Clients you should accept
“Professional” Client – no nonsense type of client, which will give you what you need and expect quality in return This type knows what he wants, has needed experience and just needs a project done. They come prepared with content, design, logos, fonts and functional requirements, and are ready to make your life easier on many levels.
One thing they will require however is promptness and confirmation that you have received and understood their requests. Do not let them down! Do your job professionally, keep them in the loop and you will keep them happy.
“Researcher” Client – just like Professional, the researcher will come prepared with some information, but unlike Professional who has done this type of work number of times before, a researcher has no prior experience in handling projects. He is ready to learn, though so be patient and answer all his questions diligently.
The researcher has the mindset to become Professional or even The perfect client. Consider your patience and lengthy meetings as a small investment in the development of proper and healthy long-term professional relationship. Who knows? Maybe in a few years, newbie you are currently collaborating with will become major player in the game and a marvelous addition to your client portfolio.
“Perfect” Client – Even though he openly appreciates your creativity, skills, and knowledge, having full trust in your abilities is what makes any client the perfect client. He is well aware of the quality of your work so you don’t have to deal with all unpleasant bargains and price knockdowns. They will value your input but also provide constructive feedback which will help you to build further upon. Keep these clients close and happy, for they are the reason you love your work.
Clients that will have you weighing pros and cons
“I would do this myself if I had the time” Client – during the initial meeting you will be informed that client is very capable of doing this job himself and the only reason you are getting this gig is because he is too busy to the actual work. The chance is high that person you are sitting with is employed by a third party so there are two critical points to consider in this situation: tight deadlines and who are you really working for – your newest employer or his boss.
If deadlines are not too tight, you should consider client’s offer. He has recognized your talent and skill and will most likely let you realize your ideas while offering suggestions or feedback on the final design.
“No deadline” Client – Working with this type of client can be a double-edged sword. Even though the lack of deadlines can make your experience stress free, finding out that your overdue paycheck has no deadlines as well can be very frustrating. You could get paid tomorrow or in a year… Who knows?
To solve this predicament, always determine the day when you will be delivering a final product, and then insist that they do the same with the paycheck. If the client agrees to this arrangement, you can give yourself a permission to proceed. On the other hand, if he declines, it may mean that this project has little importance to him and that he never had the intention to compensate you for your work in the first place.
“Young unrealistic” Client – Inexperienced like Researchers but equipped with a lot less background information, these younglings are usually making much bigger plans than they can handle. This combination can prove to be a burden on your shoulders as well, so tread lightly. Even though there is a high probability of failure, you can give it a shot: young people are often flexible and open to suggestions and proposals.
If this type of client is reluctant to abandon certain unrealistic ideas, apply ‘phase 2’ defense protocol. That basically means that you should persuade them to postpone realization of their ideas until second project stage, after creating solid foundation for further development.
Clients you should evade if possible
“Just follow my instructions” Client – Forcing himself into a workflow with utter disregard for your process plans, this client is convinced that no decision may be made without their explicit input and approval. No boundaries or rules can prevent his involvement, because – otherwise – the job will not be done properly.
Include this client in process progress and communicate with him in real time. There are few project management tools for designers that will allow you to do this and hopefully, as a result, his attitude will change. However, if things go too far, detach yourself from the project. You will be stripped of all control and most you can hope for is some sort of financial satisfaction – nothing more.
“I have no idea what I want, but this isn’t it” Client – This client is, for example, planning a web development project without any idea or vision how it should be done. He doesn’t know what he wants but is not satisfied with anything you deliver.
This type of client will – if it is not already – become the bane of your existence. Nothing will ever be good enough and in the end, you will deliver much more than it was agreed upon. Solution for this problem is hidden in detailed negotiations as well and carefully managing expectations.
“Look at me! I am the boss now” Client – As soon as terms have been agreed upon, the client starts acting like he owns you. Sometimes, he bears the title of The Director. You are to be at his disposal at all times and, no matter what questions or requests are, he expects an answer without delay.
If you are stuck with this sort of heavy load, it would be best to set clear boundaries from the start – if possible. If not, clarify deliverables and determine your availability during the process so the client cannot have you at disposal as they please. If they are unwilling to accept that you are a human being that needs rest and personal life, end collaboration – that amount of stress you are about to get is simply not worth it.