Dealing with Clients from Hell

In all our working life, most of us would vouch working for a client who is tough and demanding. . Dealing with such a client is a stressful affair. With their overbearing nature, all they do is to create difficulty for project team members. So why are they clients from hell?
  • setting their own timeline
  • haggling for price
  • haggling for additional features
  • negotiating needlessly
  • constant checking of progress
  • nit-picking over small matters
  • bullying over unsatisfying results
  • demanding priority over others
  • constant comparison with other vendors
  • providing bad reference to other client
  • threatening to walk out and lawsuits
Such clients are too busy to satisfy their own ego rather than getting the work done.

Impact on the project

A client who has the problems above often make life more stressful for the vendor. Sometimes vendors are to be blamed for poor delivery but that is no excuse to treat every vendor the same. To make things work both parties need to work together. In these cases, the end result is often a fatigued vendor and dissatisfied client.

How do we deal with the situation

My personal experience says that one needs to prepare in advance to deal with such a client. Here are a few things I would do

Keep Terms and conditions as clear as possible

Edit out any portion that is vague and clearly outline the assumption in advance. Also mention that you cannot foresee all issues in advance and that if they arise will be dealt with later on in a suitable manner. Involve a lawyer in drafting agreement if needed.

Keep meetings short and to the point

Building relationship is important. But in this case , more friendlier approach may lead to more demands. Thus keep meetings short and to the point.

Timely and to the point reporting

Always be prompt and timely in reporting and stick to reporting facts in the report

Discuss in advance how new demands will be incorporated

Set up a mechanism by which new requirements will be studied and charged. Do not hesitate to ask money because client is demanding ( one of the purpose of being aggressive is to lower the price down )

Discuss in advance how many revisions are acceptable

If you are a designer for example, you cannot go repeating infinite iterations. Give client a suitable number of iterations and then charge for anything beyond that.

Negotiate with an insistent client

If a clients asks for a discount , add more value to the product and the negotiate from there.  If client perceive value , they will stop haggling. Remember negotiating is a two way process and one side may not lose all.

Getting rid of the tough client

Though I don’t recommend this, getting rid of a tough client is sometimes desirable. A good way is to set up high amounts for next project. If client is intelligent enough , they will know that they have been unreasonable in the past. They might either walk away or settle for peace with you. Image courtesy of [franky242] / FreeDigitalPhotos.net