Nothing can take the wind out of your sails faster than working with a picky client. Defeating, confusing, surprising (and not always in the best way), are usually some of the ways to describe how that can go.
Learning to make picky clients happy will, in turn, make the working relationship much smoother for all parties involved. To do this, it’s important to start at the source and figure out exactly why your picky client is picky. Here are some of the top reasons for clients to be picky, and how to work around them.
A picky client doesn’t know what they want – only what they don’t want.
Clients can be difficult when they don’t know what they really want. Perhaps they came in with a sure-shot vision and have since strayed. Or, maybe they never really had a solid idea of what your end product would look like and now they have seemingly changed their minds. Either way, the only way to counteract this is for you to be completely confident in your vision for them so that they don’t feel as tempted to change their vision with every discussion, sketch, or presentation.
“Make sure that expectations are set up beforehand,” says Cam Vacek, Client Experience Coordinator of hayWire. “Clients will walk all over companies that don’t stand their ground and I find that they respect us more for pushing back.”
A picky client doesn’t know the importance of a scope.
Projects almost always start off on a good, exciting note. However, once deliverables are turned in, a picky client won’t hesitate to ask for more or other items than previously discussed.
What may seem like a small ask from them could in-turn become a massive scope change. It’s important to ensure at the start of the project that there is a clear contract that explains what the project entails in an easy-to-understand way. Also, it helps to create checkpoints along the way for picky clients. For example, if you’re designing a website, send wireframes for review and approval before you begin full-fledged coding. If you’re writing copy, send bullet points to ensure you’ve covered it all before you begin knocking out several pages. These small steps help to mitigate the risk of doing a lot of work that could potentially go unpaid for or cause unnecessary friction between you and the client.
Another pro-tip here is that once you feel like you’ve locked in a key part of the scope (i.e., settle on a design, chose the copy), create another contract that notes further changes or revisions will be billed separately so that you are holding them accountable for the progress.
A picky client is used to being the boss.
Show from the get-go that you believe a successful working relationship looks and feels a lot like a partnership (as opposed to a dictatorship). Starting off conversations by asking friendly, personal questions is one way to warm the water before getting down to business. Or, send articles or posts that make you think of the client. If the client feels like they know you and know that you have their best interests at heart at all times, then the trust level goes up and the pickiness goes down.
The best part about learning to work with a picky client is that when the job is done, it feels like an even bigger accomplishment and often results in glowing reviews from the client. Additionally, it makes future projects with this client go much smoother.
How have you navigated a less-than-perfect client in the past? What have you found that worked or didn’t work?