What turns a client you like into a client from hell?

the hulk cartoon illustration
Does your client often transform into the Hulk?

Hell hath no fury like a woman hungry. Well, at least for me. Hunger turns me into a brainless schmuck. Which is why before a big meeting or a heated discussion, I make sure I’ve eaten. I also found out that I write better when my stomach is full.

There are many things that can tick off a business owner – a typo, a late employee, or even a client complaint. 

Although they try their best to manage their temper objectively, their patience eventually runs out and the subordinates are usually caught in the middle of a maelstrom.

Leaders and business owners are not easily frustrated but when they do get angry, they become the strongest Avenger (read: not Thor). Here are some design-related things that fill them with rage and what you can do to avoid them:

bad upset client design cartoon
“- This is not what I need”. The worst you can hear from a client after spending a lot of time on a deliverable.

Missed instructions

Some waiters in restaurants ask for your orders but never take notes. Maybe they do it to impress? I’m not sure. I worry though that they will forget something and I’ll have to follow up on my orders.

Subconsciously, I order the simplest meal on the menu to spare myself from frustration, which ends up being a bad experience for me and for the business. 

This is the kind of anxiety clients suffer from when they work with someone who always misses instructions.

When we receive a design ticket, a well-written instruction (or even a video/screencast) is always the best so we can understand exactly what you need, no matter how complex. 

Because it’s documented, the designer can go through it to make sure that there are no missed instructions.

On top of these tools, we avoid missing instructions by rechecking our work and getting another person to go through the design once more. We have the safety net of Quality Analysts to make sure everything is done according to the instructions.

How about in your company, what’s the process you use to understand your clients better, without missing instructions? It is through a one or one call? A weekly catch-up? Or a collaboration tool?

Wasted time

Time is precious to clients. Wasting their time is a sin and they’re going to be extra upset with you for it, regardless of your niche or service for them. 

They demand premium service and attention, forgetting that there are other clients who are demanding your attention too.

What’s more frustrating for them is realizing that when you both talk about a project, you also wasted your time doing the wrong work, which resulted in a product that’s far from what they had in mind.

To avoid this, before working on a project, make sure everything is clear on your end and both you and your client have the same vision of the outcome. 

This practice is good to also protect your time in case they still aren’t sure of what they really want.

We know you’re afraid to look ignorant but you can frame your questions intelligently and not simply reiterate what was said. It’s better to clarify everything at the beginning than to waste everyone’s time in the end.

1 star review cartoon
Unhappy clients = Negative feedback

Lack of attention to details

A small leak can sink a great ship. Attention to detail is a mark of a professional. When a client trusts you to be their web expert, they expect that they can depend on you to solve every problem that’s web-related.

Clients usually don’t have the same level of expertise as you do, that’s why they hired you. This is also the reason why when there’s a lack of attention from your turf, and they’re the first ones to notice, they get frustrated.

Focus on your craft. If you feel that you lack attention to detail, work on it by looking closely at your work to identify and correct errors. 

Spot and improve weaknesses to produce a near-perfect end result even before submitting the finished product.

Unhappy clients

Your clients have customers and their emotions can be contagious. If business is bad, owners and managers are usually on the edge. 

As partners, you are expected to maintain a level of objectivity when dealing with them. Fighting fire with fire will only turn everything to ashes.

If you are the reason why the client is unhappy, make amends. Offer gifts or discounts as a sign of goodwill to show that you’re not just there to earn but to actually help them. 

If they still stick with you after all the fuss, it’s a sign that they still trust you to do a better job.

To err is human but to improve is divine

As long as the client is still your client, you continue to have the opportunity to impress them and improve your work. Failure is only productive if it teaches you something and allows you to put what you’ve learned into practice.

Always consider client feedback objectively and refrain from prodding the dragon. You know what enraged them in the past; so avoid doing it again.

FREE 12-Month
Content Calendar

Download our Content Calendar for Web Agencies to keep your social media channels updated.

Download the template

Brand Guideline Example

Download our Brand Guideline Example to get a kickstart on your branding and visual identity

About - Deer Designer

Download your guide!

Design Brief Template

Download our Design Brief Template to find out how to provide a clear and comprehensive brief.

Download the template

Welcome to our Deer Partner Program

Please fill in the form