Counteracting Potential Client Complications

Presented by Nathan Ingram on 01/14/2019 2:00pm

Clients can be the best and worst part of running a WordPress business.

While it's impossible to avoid client problems entirely, many of them can be short-circuited before they happen. In this webinar, we learn the strategies and practices to help us prevent the most common problems freelancers face when dealing with clients.

9 Common Client Problem Areas Freelancers Encounter

Preventing Client Problems

  1. Stalled on Content
  2. The Angry Client
  3. Differing Expectations
  4. Disappearing Clients
  5. Your Attitude
  6. Too Much Work
  7. Scope Creep
  8. Time Wasters
  9. Hero Syndrome

The Process of Preempting Client Problems

Every freelancer who is working with clients has had or will have, problems with clients. Thankfully, because we have been able to identify some common issues that many freelancers encounter, we can take a closer look at them and determine why they happen and how to prevent them.

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Stalled on Content

Stalled Content

Why Clients Get Stalled on Content

  1. The client is not an expert, has no idea where to begin, and freezes up.
  2. The client is busy or avoids the work.

How to Prevent Stalled Content

  • Adopt a “content first” approach! Create a content guide.
  • Still stuck? Consider conducting an “interview.”
  • Partner with a writer.

Angry Clients

Angry Clients

Why We Have Angry Clients

  1. You screwed something up.
  2. The client is being unreasonable.

How To Prevent Angry Clients

If you screwed something up —
What you do next is what really matters.

  • Apologize and be humble.
  • Verbalize the issue from the client’s perspective.
  • Don’t get defensive if the client gets upset.

An old Proverb says,
“A soft answer turns away wrath, but a harsh word stirs up anger.”

Let the client vent. Let them finish and then come back with a humble apology.

Seek first to understand, then be understood. ~ Covey’s 7 Habits

  • If a client is being unreasonable, stick to the facts: scope, price, and process.
  • Don’t be afraid to hold them accountable

Differing Expectations

Differing Expectations

Why Differing Expectations Occur

  1. Frequently our fault unless the client is unreasonable.
  2. Didn’t ask enough questions or communicate clearly.

How to Prevent Differing Expectations

  • Have a checklist of questions and a consistent process for the initial client consultation.
  • Frequent communication throughout the project.
  • Opportunities for the client to sign off at appropriate points throughout the project.

Disappearing Clients

Disappearing Clients

Why Clients Disappear

  1. The client is busy and is chasing the squeaky wheel within their own business.
  2. The website (your project) is not really a priority (at the moment).

How to Prevent Disappearing Clients

  • First, these clients provide some flexibility if you are busy.
  • However, they can also reappear and make demands.
  • (Over-)Communicate the Pipeline Principle
  • Be sure your contract covers client delays and enforce it!

Your Bad Attitude

Bad Attitude

Why Your Attitude Changes (for the Worst)

  1. You’re having a bad day (week?)
  2. Personal matters intruding on your work or other clients are making your life difficult.

How to Prevent a Bad Attitude

  • Step away from your desk. Take a day off. It’s OK.
  • Let ”that” call go to voicemail.
  • Don’t hit send if you’re angry with the client. Wait.
  • Don’t talk badly about your clients to others. It colors your interaction with the client in the future.
  • Keep a balanced view of your client and yourself. Clients are people too.
  • Remember that we get to do what we love because of clients.

Too Much Work

Too Much Work

Why You Have Too Much Work

  1. You’re awesome. But you can’t say no.
  2. You’re not charging enough.
  3. You’re afraid not to take on a project so you get stressed or delayed.

How to Prevent Too Much Work

  • Don’t be afraid to set a future start date.
  • Scarcity can be a strong influencer.
  • Raise your prices.
  • Give them content tools immediately.
  • Let them work on content while you work your pipeline.

Scope Creep

Scope Creep

Why Scope Creep Happens

  1. The client gets new ideas or sees something they love on another site.
  2. The project purpose is not well-defined.

How to Prevent Scope Creep

  • You may not want to. Scope creep can mean more income.

Increase in Scope = Increase in Price.

  • Define the purpose and audience of the site upfront.
  • Ask great questions at the beginning.
  • Create a clear scope of work and explain scope creep to the client at the beginning.

Time Wasters

Time Wasters

Why Clients Waste Your Time

  1. The client is stream-of-consciousness, naturally inquisitive or a control freak.
  2. We allow the client to monopolize our time.

How to Prevent Clients From Waste Your Time

  • We’ve trained the client to waste our time, so we need to untrain them.
  • Phone calls to voicemail.
  • Control email response.
  • Schedule appointments with these clients rather than responding to their whims.
  • Plan a time window for the phone call and stick to it.

Hero Syndrome

Hero Syndrome

What is Hero Syndrome?

You feel a need to come to to the rescue of problem clients to the detriment of everything else in your life.

Why Hero Syndrome Happens

  1. You have an unhealthy need to be “liked” by the client.
  2. You have an unhealthy need to “fix” the client.

How to Prevent Hero Syndrome

  • Recognize it for what it is…

A kind of codependency – You allow yourself to be mistreated because it makes you feel needed and important. It comes from a lack of self-esteem or a low-view of yourself that can be fed by Impostor Syndrome.

  • Do some work on yourself.
  • Build your self-image. This is probably not just affecting your business.
  • Talk through these issues with someone.
  • Don’t try to fix the client. That is definitely outside of the scope of your work.

Preventing Client Problems Before They Happen

Once we understand why client problems happen, it can be relatively easy to develop our plan to counteract any complications that might arise or even potentially prevent the problem from occurring at all.

Presenter Bio: Nathan Ingram

Nathan Ingram has been a web business owner since 1995. He is the creator of >ADVANCE Coaching – a program that motivates and equips WordPress business owners individually and in groups helping them become more successful in their businesses.

Nathan hosts and teaches WordPress and freelance business development topics via live webinars. In addition to being an organizer for WordCamp Birmingham, he often speaks at WordCamp events across the United States.