Great Clients and Challenging Clients

How to handle difficult types of clients.

The other day I was listening to a podcast by Michael Hyatt, whom I highly recommend. He put into words a question I have been mulling over for quite a while: How should I think about clients who take a disproportionately high amount of my time and energy? And what are the different types of clients?

Find out how to handle that high-maintenance client. Click To Tweet

Most likely you have dealt with this scenario: You open your inbox to glance through emails, only to come face to face with harsh words from a client frustrated by unmet expectations. Instead of moving forward with other partners’ projects, you are stuck trying to satisfy a single client.

At Rubico, we’ve discovered that all our clients can be divided into 1 of 4 quadrants, 4 types of clients. There are certain characteristics that make up these types of clients, and a certain way to respond to each.

ITH Blog Graph

ITH Blog Graph 2

The Perfect Client: This high profit/low maintenance client can be so refreshing. They understand the team, the process, and communication flows easily. These types of clients are reasonable and understand that challenges come up. They also pay you for your services.

Suggested Improvements: Give this dream client some well-deserved appreciation!

The Big Client: Those high profit/high maintenance clients that take a lot of time and energy are often the most difficult clients to evaluate. You need to be honest with yourself about them. They’ll pay you without question and return for future projects, but have high, hard-to-meet expectations.

Suggested Improvements: Lower their maintenance levels by clearly writing down what you hear as their expectations. This will improve communication. If you are not able to improve your process and expectation setting with this client, strongly consider parting ways. They are not the best fit for your company and process. Use your energy elsewhere in building a strong base of clients that match your company’s process more exactly.

The Quiet Client: The low profit/low maintenance client is that quiet customer you have had for a long time. With these clients you’ve done a good job setting expectations and creating a solid foundation for the relationship.

Suggested Improvements: Thank this client for their positive relationship. Offer to increase the project size or volume with them. This may not always happen, as this client’s business may not need as much attention.

Beware the Draining Client – that low profit/high maintenance client. These customers bring immense amounts of stress into a business for you personally and for your team. They don’t try to understand you or your team, can’t be flexible with the process, throw fits rather than communicate, and have impossible expectations. More than likely, they’ll try to negotiate down your set prices.

Suggested Improvements: If this client won’t lower expectations, treat you (and your team) with more respect, or at the very least make it more profitable to work with them (which would land them in the Big Client quadrant), then it’s best for both of you to part ways.

Each client comes with their own set of rewards and challenges (well, except for the Draining Client). It is important to minimize challenges as much as possible through straightforward processes, clear expectations and transparent communication.

At Rubico, we are a process-driven company focusing on clear communication and deliverables. One way we gather a client’s expectations is through our questionnaires. Take a look at them and use them to set clear expectations and improve communication with your clients.

Rubico has been providing quality, custom web development services for over a decade to web companies and ad agencies. We are an agile web development company taking advantage of a globally dispersed team to deliver excellent results. Over 350 clients have been thrilled by the consultation, competency, increased capacity and cost effectiveness that Rubico brings to every project.

We create complex web and mobile applications. We bring together expert Indian developers – ranked among the top in their field – and India-based, American relationship managers, who provide stateside context for client’s needs and expectations. This combination creates a new kind of contracted development that doesn’t trade quality for cost.