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I have a client that I occasionally make text updates to his site. One time he decided to pay me when he felt like it. I knew he was beginning to be trouble. He's not a big deal paying client and he was referred to me by a pleasant client of mine.
Things changed when he offered me the job to redesign another website of his - he wanted it for cheap though. I reviewed the site and it wasn't a site I was comfortable doing, and even if I was, I wasn't going to do it for a low ball price. The bottom line is, I explained to him my reasoning for refusing the project (as it went against my integrity, I just couldn't support a site like that), he argued with me and finally he just hung up on me.
I thought I was done with this client and what a relief. I thought I would never hear from him again. I don't like dealing with cheap clients, or people who think they can just treat me any kind of way (like hanging up on me, for refusing a project).
But he is now calling me to continue to update his current website. I've been ignoring him because I don't know how to respond to him without being blunt (which can be unprofessional). I don't really want to serve this guy. The updates aren't a big deal and the money is very small. I know clients like this are trouble. How do I handle him?
He's called me seven times over the last 3 days, once on a non-business day (Sunday). He's one desperate guy for these updates. He even sent me his credit card info through email, urging me to update his site. This is totally crazy because I don't have a credit card processing unit and he knows I accept PayPal and its insecure to send data like that over email.
How do I respond to this guy? I just don't want do the updates and to send the message that its OK to try to low ball me and then hang-up on me because I refuse to do a service and then, months later, come back like nothing happen and ask for service at a lower rate than what we agree upon.
This guy is not a big pain, but he's just someone I would rather not deal with? Whats your thoughts.
"Bob, last time we spoke you were pretty rude to me on the phone and hung up on me because I wasn't prepared to discount my price to a point where it wasn't viable for me to undertake the work. If you are confident that we can work together in a sensible, fashion and you're prepared to pay <insert very high ball price here to try to get him to vote with his wallet> for this work, I'd be happy to help out - but I don't want to push ahead, if this is going to be a tense and difficult relationship for each of us".
Better to confront the behaviour in my experience - if you let sleeping dogs lie, they tend to wake up when you go to pat them and tear your arm off.
Clients can be so ungrateful at times. I have one who pestered me for when she needed minor text and image updates. I always actioned these as quickly and efficiently as her virtually unintelligible instructions would allow and I did not charge her a lot of money.
I got an email from her at the weekend telling me that she was getting someone else to put her two websites on a CMS and thanking me "for all my help over the years". We were not even offered the opportunity to quote for this work and I know that the company she has chosen is larger and almost certainly more expensive than we would have been.
I looked after her website for more than four years and promoted it the top position (now 2nd after Wikipedia) in Google's UK results for her killer search phrase. I guess she doesn't know what this was worth to her and I am hoping that her new site collapses in the rankings (sorry I can't help feeling vindictive!)
I've been ignoring him because I don't know how to respond to him without being blunt (which can be unprofessional).
One of the biggest complaints from clients I see? "I tried and tried to get ahold of them, and they just don't respond." Ignoring a situation is only going to worsen it, and is even more unprofessional than being blunt. There is nothing wrong with "blunt" and to the point, it puts you in control, it airs the problem. There is a big difference between blunt and arrogant.
Don't beat around the bush. Believe me, I have had my share of these and they go either one of two ways: cut them loose or train this customer to develop "people skills".
I don't really want to serve this guy.
If this is the bottom line, stick to the cold facts, not side-step with high pricing or emotional involvement. Even bringing up rudeness is just going to inflame the situation. Never say "I'm not going to argue with you" or "calm down" or anything that feeds an already flaming personality. One way is your needs would be better served by someone who is more compatible with how you do business. I just can't help you any more.
Don't explain why. This comes from raising children: when you say "no" the first thing they do is ask is WHY so they can pick apart your reasoning, lengthen the argument. Don't give the opening to "why." If he asks why - and he will - now is the time to be blunt. Your response: I am not going to explain myself to you, this is just how it is.
If you want to train this customer, you first need to take control of your part in the relationship, not avoid it. Sure they are the client, they have the money, so they *think* they make the rules. You need to turn this around so there is an understanding that YOU are in control of your business, and if he wants to do business with you, you have to work on level ground. Then you carefully compose your problem list, one by one, and figure out how to voice this in a way that he will understand without invoking an argument.
Very difficult, but over time, I've turned raving lunatics into reasonable, long term customers who never raise their voice to me again. It can be a beautiful thing, but requires patience. It helps to have raised children . . . . LOL . . . the metaphor has striking similarities if you really think about it.
A small story: I had one of these that felt he could call any time, rave to the roof about problems that were out of my control that I could not solve. One day I let him p*** me off. I reacted. Did I "blame" him? No. I calmed down, realized that it was MY fault for letting him push me over the line. I called back the following Monday and did just what I said: explained that this has gone far enough, I couldn't help him any more. We'd done.
Three months went by. He contact me, after going the route with other programmers and developers, realizing the mistakes he'd made. He's now a fair, reasonable, no-nonsense customer who I expect to work with for a very long time.
Take control. They will respect you an realize you as a valuable asset.
This is always a tough spot because many of us are the salesman, account managers and website developers as opposed to a company where sales people deal with him and the excutive level is not accessable for communication.
I think Rocknbills got great advice for a lot of clients that are hard to deal with, but sounds like this guy is just too far out there. If he pays when he feels like then even if you get a deposit , he may burn you on the balance.
I have some problem clients like that. I'm finding that I can usually price them into taking their business elsewhere.