Bringing Out the Best In Clients


preston bailey how to manage difficult clients

(Photo via Anna Bodrova)

Recently, I was speaking to a very dear friend in the industry, and she said something that stopped me in my tracks.

She said, “Having a bad client is worse than having no clients at all.”

I immediately asked her the first thing that popped into my head: “What makes a bad client?” She didn’t hesitate and quickly replied that a bad client is one who is never happy, no matter what you do.

This got me thinking about my own experiences with clients. And, for me, the most difficult clients have also been the ones who taught me the most.

So this idea of a “bad client” makes me a bit leery. On the one hand, there’s no question that a “bad client” can be draining and demand a lot of your time and energy. On the other hand, who says this business is just about the “good clients?”

The fact is, the service industry is about providing service regardless of how well or not so well a client behaves.

Of course I thank my lucky stars when I get a wonderful client, but I’m also grateful for the clients who aren’t so wonderful. I appreciate all my clients — they keep me in business.

There was, however, one time when I fired a client. And, truth be told, it was in the beginning of my career when I hadn’t yet learned how to manage client expectations.

Now, don’t misunderstand: I’ve had my fair share of clients who have made me want to scream out in anger and frustration, but that’s just part of the job. It happens. (The important thing is keeping it together and NOT going on a screaming rampage.)

I also find that the sooner and better I understand my clients, the more likely I am to earn a “good client.”

How do I do this?

It’s easy. As soon as I start working with a new client, I simply ask what kind of attention he or she needs. The answer is usually either:

1. I am very hands on and need to know everything at all times. I need to be very involved in the process, and I need you to always get back to me as soon as possible.


2. I am very busy, and my time is valuable. You are the expert, so please tell me what I need to do.

On Wednesday, I’ll discuss dealing with both types of clients. When dealt with appropriately, neither one ever has to become a “bad client.”

Dear Readers, do you agree with my friend who said that having a bad client is worse than having no clients at all? How do you feel about those clients who are impossible please? What are some of your strategies?

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