Have you ever had a client call you in a panic and insist she has to talk to you right NOW, only to find out she had a simple question? Or how about a client who texts you at 11pm to ask (yet again) if that paint is the right color? There are clients who seem to thrive on constant attention, creating an “emergency” out of the simplest issues. The secret to dealing with clients like that? You have to control YOUR behavior in order to control theirs. Read on to see what I mean…
You have start off your relationship by setting boundaries with your clients. If you react to every “emergency” with your own sense of panic, then you’re basically telling your client that it’s okay to ratchet up the drama over small things. It’s better to react calmly and assess before you focus all your energy on whatever the issue is. I know many of you answer texts at all hours. I say don’t. In fact, go ahead and write in your contract that you can’t take texts except for real emergencies. Why? If you aren’t able to deal with a design question or issue right away and you forget about that you opened the text in the first place, your client’s design work will suffer. It is about providing the BEST service to your client.
What about those clients who love the drama? You know the ones I mean – everything is top priority to them. In a case like that, you’re the one who needs to remain calm, cool, and collected. If you answer drama with more drama, it only gets worse. And sometimes it’s good not to answer right away to a dramatic phone call or text. Let emotions cool before you respond! Usually the best way to deal with a “drama mama” is to over-communicate about the project via email updates. Be sure they feel like they know what’s going on. Emotions can run high when your client is spending a lot of money on their private spaces – be the calm at the center of the storm.
Of course there are real emergencies that can happen on a project – it’s up to you to sort out a serious issue from regular challenges. Communication can help here too, if you use language like “this happens often, and I have an easy fix.” And if you learn about a major problem before your client does, be sure you bring it to their attention, along with a solution. Just be sure you avoid language like: “no big deal” (it IS to them!), or “calm down” (very patronizing). If you have a client who constantly “cries wolf,” get to the heart of their panic. Do they feel out of control financially? Are they really worried about the overall project? Sit down and talk with them when they’re calm. I am sure there is pressure coming from somewhere!
The one thing that we don’t often think about with this sort of drama is how much it can hurt your business. If you have to give more than a fair share of attention to that squeaky wheel, you won’t have the time for other clients’ projects. And if you’re constantly pulled away from your job to deal with drama, you might as well throw that to-do list out the window. Nothing else will get done. So nipping faux emergencies in the bud as quickly as possible is not only good for your mental health, it’s important to keep your business running smoothly.
As you can see, communication is really the key! Download my FREE Client Communication Log to help you stay in touch and avoid a lot of drama!