Have you heard the old saying for the clients, that in business, “the customer is always right“? Right! Wrong, I would say. Or rather, I would have to continue, that it depends on the client. Usually, customers and clients are not always right, but they expect to be treated as such! And that many times, became, very difficult.

A story of 2 Clients

Business As Usual? Or Not!

In your business life, often, you meet many types of people. This is natural! The problem arises when you encounter people, you cannot cooperate with, and it becomes really serious when these people are your clients.

Most notably, there are 2 kinds (types) of clients: Good and Bad!

Bad Clients

A bad client is the one who knows all, the how, why, where, with whom, etc of the things you should or shouldn’t make. It is the most of the times manipulative, bossy, and in constant need of something that is missing! (and never lose the chance to remind you of!!!). It is a person or a group of people with a high opinion of themselves and little to none chance to change their minds on a subject.

They never argue, discuss or trying to find new alternatives on a way of action, but usually, the insist on the old, “tested” ways of making things. They constantly nagging you about subjects and issues on a project or task that are highly unimportant, insisting “on the details” and on how they “know how the job is done” [!!!]. Most of the times, these people, have not needed at all from a consultant, or a firm of experts. They need just an assistance, someone with the knowledge to do the specific thing they require of.

The results from a cooperation such as this are the “best of the involve ones’ opinion” poorly and never a task reaches it original targeting or scope!!!

Good Clients

The other kind, the good ones, clients, are persons or group of people, ready to seek the knowledge and expertise, they require, and prompt to do what it takes to proceed a cooperation with the interested parties. Usually, strive after forming an educated opinion on the subject at hand, read and test variable solutions, before they approach you.

They try to focus on the objectives at hand and not on the required procedures, respect your time and limits, discuss the best ways to do their bidding. They have always been “in the loop” in a loosely tied manner without imposing themselves either with directions or with mandates (you do, or…), giving you the initiative to do what you do best (and this is the reason they originally hire you for!!!). They seek expertise or consultancy in a specific (not abroad) scope of things, they involved in the loop only when it is necessary, they try to involve in the process other members from the stuff (either as operational assistance or as trainees) in order to acquire the necessary knowledge or skills, the discuss, negotiate, respect their and your time and boundaries and never they don’t change the “rules of the games“, agreed upon at the start of your cooperation.

Usually, the results of such a cooperation are highly valued and contribute value-added effects on business or personal processes.

Can You Handle A Client?

In consultancy ring, there is an old saying. It reads that “you train your clients“. That it is true! You can train your clients, in the same ways you “train” your relationships, your friends, your associates, etc. But that it takes time!. And usually, in a cooperation, time is almost never a resource in abundance. And since it is not always feasible to have long-term relationships with every person, company, or group you have co-operated with, you usually, set out from the start, some base rules of the impending cooperation.

These might be:

  • specific and formal ways of involvement
  • communication of your team with only one or two people, designated for the task at hand
  • the what and how of the client’s involvement in a project or task
  • specific timetables and times for response in a request, question, or decision
  • setting boundaries

After all, everyone has the clients he/she deserves. And these are some ways you can train your clients, on the what and how they can involve in the work at hand. If you, as a consultant, leave some boundaries open then it is most probable that you would end your days, trying to justify every bit of decision, you made about your work. In such cases, with a friend as with clients, the boundaries should be clear, should have been set and should have been respected with all cost. Otherwise, your time and work become depended on the wimps of a single client, something would be proved highly problematic!

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Question: How you deal with your clients? Do you think clients can be influenced by good practices or not?