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The Wonderful World of Difficult Clients [Infographic]

January 5, 2013

Most companies must deal with clients, but not all clients are rays of sunshine. The wonderful world of clients includes those who are demanding and just plain confusing.

To help you identify the signs of a potentially difficult client, digital marketing and creative agency Ciplex created the following infographic of 15 difficult-client types and how businesses can identify and successfully work with them.

Among the difficult types of clients...

Mr. I'm Not Really Sure What I Want. He constantly changes his mind from hour to hour. His indecision derails projects.

Mr. Everything's an Emergency. He is the only client on the planet who should matter to you. Well, at least, he thinks he is.

Mrs. I Care So Much It Hurts. She knows exactly what she wants and demands everything done exactly to her specifications. Your input is not wanted.

Ms. I Hate That Color for No Reason. This client sweats the small stuff. She hyperfocuses on a tiny feature, color, font, or word to the point that all progress halts until the trivial matter is solved.

Mr./Mrs./Mrs./Mr. Decision-by-Committee. This client works together completely and will do nothing without a major meeting of minds. Every decision requires the entire committee.

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  • by Stephan Hovnanian Mon Jan 7, 2013 via web

    I LOVE THIS INFOGRAPHIC!!!! Can I get a print, I'd like to put this in my office, right alongside The Oatmeal's "How a Web Design Goes Straight to Hell" poster.

    Awesome tips about how to handle these types of clients, and I especially appreciate where you're recommending to take a pass altogether. If you're looking for the flip-side, check out a popular article on our site about what makes a great [web design] client:

  • by Kaloma Mon Jan 7, 2013 via web

    If this is how you view your customers, why would I want to be one?

  • by Scott Mon Jan 7, 2013 via web

    I'm going to share this with all my colleagues. However, as a company principal, I never believe telling the client "we do have other clients" is a proper response. I tell my clients that I want them to feel like they're our only client. But, I manage expectations by putting together detailed production timelines so they have a better understanding of the process.

  • by Iva Ignjatovic Mon Jan 7, 2013 via web

    Descriptions, text and infographic are totally realistic and I love the whole package BUT since I am in marketing almost 15 years and I was Account director of a large division for almost 10 years I must say following. Almost 95% of clients fit in some of those categories and only 5% were responding good to blunt and straight forward approach you pointed out. All the rest were handled with skillful client service. Therefore I must say that this text misses one small but important note, that all of these are just guidelines not some universal problem solving know-how.

  • by MO Mon Jan 7, 2013 via web

    Every client will fall into one or more of the categories, and I know that I'm not a perfect client despite having been on the agency/sales side and knowing what that side is like. But if I am ever told "well we do have other clients" in response to a deadline/need not being met as expected, I would come completely unglued.

    If you are properly managing expectations, such a "reminder" should NEVER be necessary. I hope no one takes that piece of advice to heart, as you would lose customers in a heartbeat.

  • by Stephan Hovnanian Mon Jan 7, 2013 via web

    By the way, I agree with others about the point on reminding clients they aren't the only one. That's implied, or you'd be employed directly by them, so there's no need to bring it up.

    Remember, even in this "always-on" society, there's nothing wrong with taking an extra day to reply to an email or voicemail. Don't even apologize for it (rather, thank them for their patience). The faster you reply to clients who have a tendency to monopolize your time, the more you feed into their methods.

  • by Steve Johnston Mon Jan 7, 2013 via web

    Very nice job. I have a presentation I do for agency newbies called "Why Clients are Crazy" that incorporates many of these characters.

  • by Kimberly Mon Jan 7, 2013 via web

    Cute! As a client, i can certainly hold my hat in my hand and admit there is lot of truth to all of these examples. Although I'm sure this is intended to be taken with a grain of salt (and sense of humor) I hope agencies also take time to understand the "why" behind some of these scenarios and see things through client's reality.

    In times where agencies are being marginalized daily by clients, and AOR hunts happening yearly... Also worth thinking about other ways to gain that strategic seat at the clients table. A blog i wrote on this subject:

    Thanks for posting! I had a chuckle.

  • by ilya Mon Jan 7, 2013 via web

    Print version available here for anyone who wants a copy: :)

  • by Marian Smith Tue Jan 8, 2013 via web

    Made my morning! Brilliant thanks ..... off to rank my clients!

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