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11 Common Client Problems and How To Deal With Them

Nothing in life comes in a perfect package.

Whatever you need/have will come with some problems. Be it the code you are trying to write or a design you are working on.

If you are a freelance web developer or designer, you will face many problems. And, the problems with your clients is one of them.

You have to deal with clients who criticize everything you do, drain your energy, and are slow to pay. Some clients disappear for weeks or even months and appear with unrealistic demands.

This list of problems can keep going on…because every client has different personalities.

It’s really weird and confusing sometimes. One moment you have the problem of not having any clients but when you have them, there’s the problem of irritating clients that you have to deal with.

But, you shouldn’t worry.

Client problems exist in every business and in every company. No matter how troublesome the clients are, you should always try your best to keep them because you and your client are two sides of a coin.

Therefore, to help you deal with the client problems, I identified the 11 types of problems that you might face with your clients, based on the experience with my clients,

And, in this article, I will talk about those 11 client problems, their causes, and how to deal with them so that you and your client can get along.

Let’s begin!

Problem 1: Differing Expectations

You might expect one thing and the client might expect the exact opposite. Hence, the end product may not be what the client actually had in his/her mind. This might lead to client dissatisfaction and conflict.

It’s usual that clients expect a quality product in a short duration and less cost.

But, as a freelancer, it’s your job to know what your client expects because setting correct expectations with clients will help you prevent conflict in the future.

Causes of Differing Expectations

  • Unreasonable client demands that are difficult to meet.
  • Poor communication, assumptions, and lack of proper planning.
How to Deal
  • Set up frequent meetings with client and have a better upfront communication.
  • Arrange a list of questions to ask the client at the beginning of each new project or consultation to clarify expectations.
  • Frequently ask for feedbacks and approvals with the client at appropriate intervals. Don’t proceed with any design or development until the client approves it.

Problem 2: Stalled contents that halt progress

If you are working on a website design, you will sometimes need some contents from the client to update it on their website. Missing content can even hold up the website launch.

Also, you will often require some content/data to understand the project or design the workflow. And, if the client isn’t providing you the required content, the development of the project can be delayed.

Causes of stalled contents

  • The client is busy and avoids work.
  • The client has difficulty in writing the content and thus lags behind.
How to Deal
  • Be active and record your notes at the time of discussion and interview. Try asking questions that clear your client’s expectations.
  • Consider subcontracting a freelance writer to produce the content for your project.
  • Offer content production as a new service to your clients to resolve the stalled content problem.

Problem 3: Unreasonable client demands

There will always be clients that ask or demand you to make an impossible deadline but are not willing to compensate you for such demands.

They want you to provide a benefit that you just can’t and expect you to cut your price to a level that will jeopardize your business.

Causes of unreasonable demands

  • The absence of a project scope agreement or a contract.
  • Not being able to say no to the client demands and going above & beyond to serve their needs.
How to Deal
  • Set your project boundaries earlier and don’t let them slack off.
  • Formulate a client agreement with a clear scope of works, transparency of costs, a termination clause, and reimbursement policy should the scope change.
  • Return to your project scope agreement and/or contract if the client makes unreasonable demands and hold them accountable to what they agreed at the beginning of the project.
  • You can fire the client if you have a termination clause in your contract. If not, avoid getting yourself in legal trouble.

Problem 4: Nonstop client communication

Some clients are hands-on and want to know what’s going on most of the time. They keep on sending emails at all hours of the night to find out the progress updates. This might interrupt your workflow and derail your ability to do your best work.

Causes of Nonstop client communication

  • The client’s nature might be naturally inquisitive or a control freak.
  • Failure to clearly set your work hours and entertaining emails at all time.

How to Deal

  • Set work hours and don’t respond to emails out of those hours. Even if you work during off hours, don’t let your client get accustomed to hearing from you during those hours.
  • Set an average email response time.
  • Set up a weekly call, or bi-weekly video conference, or simply send weekly email updates.

Problem 5: Endless rounds of revision

Some clients repeatedly ask for several rounds of reviews with no end in sight.

They ask for constant corrections, multiple edits, and engage you in long conversations enough to drive you crazy. These frequent edits slow down approvals and might limit you from accomplishing what you want.

If that’s the case, you need to talk to your client about the approval process.

Causes of endless revision

  • Failure to clearly define and articulate about the round of revisions to the client.
  • Lack of communication with the client about the progress of the project.

How to Deal

  • Keep the client informed about each phase of the design process.
  • Decide earlier on the count of reviews on each individual element of the product.
  • Clearly define when change requests will be considered extra work and how this will be billed.

Problem 6: Work Overload

Often clients want you to make an impossible deadline and this leaves you with too little time to accomplish too much of work. Also, handling multiple client jobs at a time might be exhausting and eventually hinder your productivity.

If you’re working all hours of the day and night to get everything done, then pretty soon your work and your health will start to suffer.

Be in control and make a decision to stop at a given hour.

Causes of Work Overload

  • Taking up too many projects at a time.
  • Not being able to say no to new projects and clients.
  • Coinciding deadlines of multiple projects.

How to Deal

  • Be realistic and have attainable goals. It is okay to say no to a few clients and projects.
  • Set a future start date with a new client.
  • Immediately assign the new clients with some homework while you work on other projects. You can buy this time to complete other pending projects and get back to it later.

Problem 7: Maintaining client relationships

It’s often said that there is no place for emotion in business and business should never be personal. But, building an emotional connection is a key aspect in building a long-term relationship. Yet, emotions influence decision-making and the ability to trust.

Causes of Disputes with Clients

  • Differing expectations, miscommunication, unreasonable demands, and client dissatisfaction often influence the relationship between you and your clients.
  • Varied human nature and negative influence of anger, disappointment, frustration, and a host of other emotions that may result due to client-facilitator interactions.

How to Deal

  • It is important to nurture relationships with clients and establish a sense of trust and ambition. So, sometimes, go out of your way to ensure clients satisfaction and maintain constant communication.
  • Accept your mistakes and deal with positivity. Learn about the client’s take on the issues and explain your approach to get back on track.
  • Some relationships just don’t work. If things are yet to change despite your constant efforts, it’s time you put a stop and let the client go.

Problem 8: Negotiating Prices

You need to deal with a varied nature of clients and this certainly makes negotiating the price for projects very difficult.

Clients often want too much work to be done in too less of a cost. Some clients are understanding and agree to the reasonable price you offer while some want you to cut your price to a level that will jeopardize your business.

Causes of Price Disputes

  • Differing approaches to fees makes negotiating difficult.
  • Failure to clearly state about the base price, rush fee, and other additional charges earlier in the contract.

How to Deal

  • Clearly state the right value for all your offerings at the beginning and document it on your contract.
  • Set a rush fee if the client requests a very tight deadline.
  • Set a number of revisions included in the project scope for those clients who request for too many reviews.
  • Set an extra pay at an hourly rate for the additional work beyond the scope.

Problem 9: Scope Creep

Scope creep refers to frequent changes, continuous or uncontrolled growth in a project’s scope, at any point after the project begins.

It occurs whenever a client brings a new idea or wants to add new functionality beyond the scope of the original project.

Causes of Scope Creep

  • It occurs when the scope of a project is not properly defined, documented, or controlled.
  • Entertaining few additional works often leads you to a pile of extra works that are out of the project scope.

How to Deal

  • Make sure to clearly define the scope of the project and document it at the beginning of the project.
  • Refer to the project scope whenever a client asks for additional work beyond the scope.
  • Mention about the extra pay at an hourly rate for the additional work in your contract.

Problem 10: Unresponsive Client

While some clients may be proactive and communicate frequently, some may be retroactive and disappear every now and then. These clients may remain contactless and disappear for weeks or even months.

Unresponsive clients eventually disrupt your project pipeline, workflow, and cash flow. So, it’s important to keep clients in check and update the progress frequently.

Causes of the problem

  • The client might be busy pursuing other tasks.
  • The given task might have a lower priority at the moment.

How to Deal

  • Make sure to cover client delays in your contract and enforce it. Mention clearly that if a client fails to respond quickly, the project gets suspended within X days.
  • Set fees or guidelines about what will happen if a client fails to respond within deadlines. For example, if a client stops responding within deadlines and you don’t have a payment schedule that can help mitigate that, consider setting a restart fee if the project goes past X date, a weekly fee past X date, or make it clear they will be put at the bottom of your project list.

Problem 11: Trust Issues

The personal attitude of both the freelancer and client can creep into communication, productivity, and proficiency. A lot of freelancers often develop a ‘Hero Syndrome’ and create a desperate situation to seek recognition.

Also, there can be some clients who are just plain difficult, rude and abrasive, and arrogant. These varying nature of individuals create differences and often leads to trust issues.

Causes of Trust Issues

  • Inconsistent action, arrogance, and client frustration might intrude in your work and develop trust issues.
  • Failure to meet deadlines and stick to commitments.
  • Lack of communication and failure to update clients on the status of the project.

How to Deal

  • Avoid your attitude to creep in your professional relationship and be mindful of feeling frustrated, angry, or resentful.
  • Communicate clearly and consistently to keep the clients’ expectations realistic.
  • Do not commit to unrealistic projects or deadlines and stick to your commitments.
  • Trust issues can often lead you to some legal actions. Make sure to outline a behavioral clause and termination clause in your contract.
  • It’s time to walk away if the client continues to be rude or disrespectful towards you despite your attempt to make your professional relationship work.

Conclusion

Even though client problems are inevitable, most of them can be tackled beforehand.

All you need to do is see beyond the obvious and figure out the issues in order to improve the existing practices, protocols, and operating procedures.

Following these above tactics will help you handle the client problems effectively like a professional freelancer.

Did you face any other problems? Let us know in the comments.

 

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