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Good, Rude, or Shrewd? How to Deal With Different Types of Clients

Different Types of Clients and How to Deal with Them
Dealing with customers becomes easier if you know what type of personalities they have. It will also help you in your interaction and negotiation. BusinessZeal gives you information about the different types of clients and how to deal with them.
Madhushree Kelkar
Last Updated: Feb 10, 2018
Rule 1
The customer is always right.

Rule 2
If the customer is ever wrong, re-read Rule 1.
~ Stew Leonard
Every customer wants you to treat him like a king. However, different types of clients have different types of personalities. Hence, utilizing the same behavior while dealing with different types of clients may not impress them.

You need to understand the personalities of these people before interacting with them. For example, if you are dealing with a 'perfectionist', then you cannot deliver shoddy work which lacks in quality.

You will have to understand the expectations of the various types of clients and cater to them. Here are a few types of common client personalities which will help you to deal with them better.
The Whatever Works Client
Client: Why do you want me to fill the briefing form? I don't have time to do all this clerical work. Use your own imagination.
You: It would really help us save time if we knew what you are expecting from us.
Client: Look, this is not your first assignment with us. You should come up with an innovative concept for our new range of solar products. I know you will be able to do it easily.
This client allows you to exercise your creative freedom. He is disinterested in any kind of work and expects you to come up with innovative concepts on your own. One benefit of this type of client is that he is not recklessly determined on getting the work done in his own way, and can also pay you well if he likes your work.
Personality Traits
▸ He will give you least amount of input which may cause many re-works.
▸ He will accord you a lot of creative freedom.
▸ He is completely disinterested in the work.
▸ He will be unresponsive to your queries.
▸ He will always cite lack of time to avoid giving you a briefing.
Dealing With Him
▸ You will have to push this client to get him to respond.
▸ Help him by providing creative options.
▸ Note down cues for work that he gives away in casual conversations.
▸ Being on good terms with this client will be highly helpful to you.
▸ If you 'salvage' him by providing good ideas, he will like it.
▸ Have as many interactions as possible with this client.
The Perfectionist Client
Client: I don't care if you have to re-print the brochure. I already mentioned that I wanted the book to be printed in dark gray CMYK combination and you used just gray instead.
You: But it hardly makes any difference. And I think this option is really making the brochure stand out from the rest.
Client: Oh no, are you going to change the brochure or do I have to change the agency?
Like the character of Sheldon Cooper from 'The Big Bang Theory', this type of client thinks that he knows better than you. He likes it when you work according to his ideas and beliefs. He may nit-pick even the smallest of details in the work and crib about them. There are chances that the harsh words of this client can make you lose your confidence.
Personality Traits
▸ This client complaints constantly if you do not deliver as he pleases.
▸ He expects you to deliver exactly as per his specifications and will suggest many changes.
▸ This client is a perfectionist and will be very hard to impress.
▸ He will get into every small detail of the work.
▸ You will hardly hear any words of appreciation.
Dealing With Him
▸ The best way to impress this client is to deliver exactly what he has asked for.
▸ Maintain the quality and quantity of work.
▸ Detach yourself from the project, to avoid getting hurt by the words of this client.
▸ Sometimes he will try to look down upon you, do not get affected by this.
▸ Don't doubt your skills if he does not agree with your work.
▸ Practice patience and keep calm while interacting with him.
The Know-it-all Client
Client: I want the design to look dynamic. You can use lots of hard-hitting text with a compelling visual.
You: But that will not serve the purpose in our campaign. We should let the image speak for itself with minimum amount of text.
Client: It will, I have 20 years of business communication experience. I know exactly what works and what doesn't.
This type of client can be very difficult to deal with as he has a huge ego. He thinks that he knows anything and everything regarding your work. The most irritating habit of this client is that he will try to teach you your own work. However, you need to keep patience and practice tact when dealing with him.
Personality Traits
▸ He is always over-confident.
▸ He likes to show-off of his intelligence.
▸ He is rigid when it comes to new ideas.
▸ he tries to throw his weight around.
▸ He is often delusioned about the work.
Dealing With Him
▸ Give him credit for the work.
▸ Boost his ego from time to time.
▸ Use keywords like, 'What an idea!', 'We will follow your idea', 'You are right', etc.
▸ Carefully suggest changes to his idea, don't negate him altogether.
▸ Compliment him, but never criticize.
▸ Sugar coat your words when you have to put across something which he may oppose.
The Tough Taskmaster Client
Client: What do you mean, it's a national holiday? You will work when I ask you to. Now, have a look at the briefing that I have emailed you.
You: I really do understand that it is an emergency, but I am out of town with my family. Besides, there is no one at the office to respond to this matter now. Can we get additional time till 12 pm tomorrow?
Client: Well, how you manage is your concern. I want the work ready by 9 am sharp tomorrow morning.
Like Miranda Priestly's character from the film 'The Devil Wears Prada', this client is a highflyer in his career who has a lot of decision-making powers. He is well aware of the 'power' he owns. He does not consider if it is a public holiday or the fact that you are out of station, he wants his work completed anyhow.
Personality Traits
▸ Exudes a sense of self-confidence.
▸ Likes to be in control of situations.
▸ Wields power in the workplace.
▸ Is a tough taskmaster and you must work as he wants.
▸ Makes it a point to threaten you by hiring someone else.
Dealing With Him
▸ Be stern while putting your foot down in case you need more time.
▸ Do not become a doormat when he starts to say nasty things to you.
▸ Try to gain his trust and confidence.
▸ Explain to him if the work requires more time.
▸ Stress on the keywords like, 'quality work', 'more impressive options', 'innovative ideas', 'best solutions', etc.
▸ Try to handle things professionally with this client.
The Unassertive Client
Client: It's okay, I understand that you were busy yesterday. Can you please complete it in the next two days at least?
You: Good, you understand. I am not sure, but I can definitely try.
Client: Please try to complete it. I have already received a memo because of this. I have an ultimatum of two days for this work.
This type of client usually settles for less than perfect work and does not assert his power or opinion when it comes to work. He prefers to sit and wait for the work to be completed, and does not exert pressure on you to complete the work. However, this should not lead you to deliver shoddy work.
Personality Traits
▸ Lacks confidence.
▸ Easily extends the deadline for you.
▸ Likes and accepts the work easily.
▸ Does not give suggestions.
▸ Does not get into arguments with you.
Dealing With Him
▸ Don't take advantage of their generous nature.
▸ Discipline yourself to meet his deadlines.
▸ Treat him well, don't take him for granted.
▸ Encourage him to give his opinions.
▸ No matter what, respect him.
▸ Do not compromise on quality when delivering to him.
The Friendly Client
Client: You have done a great job with the exhibition display. I must say that everyone liked it.
You I wish we had more time, I would have been able to add some more design aspects to the structure.
Client: Whatever you rolled out in a matter of few days is highly commendable.
You should thank your stars if you have a friendly client. Not only is he easy to get along, but also values the good work which you deliver. He also encourages you to deliver better quality of work, thus raising the bar of your work.
Personality Traits
▸ Appreciates your work.
▸ Can extend the deadline if you are delivering quality work.
▸ Understands your work pressure.
▸ Motivates you to do better every time.
▸ Happily makes your payment on time.
Dealing With Him
▸ Deliver on time and give many options.
▸ Suggest new trends in the market.
▸ Ask for an advance if you want it.
▸ Be friendly and cordial with him.
▸ Ask for his inputs wherever necessary.
▸ Don't get too comfortable and deliver repetitive work.
The Shoestring Budget Client
Client: Come on now, I am looking for a five-year contract with you. And you are still not ready to compromise on the prices.
You: It is really not possible for me to cut down on the cost of printing. If I do so, I will have to spend from my pocket. I have already given you a considerable discount on the design.
Client: Well, then perhaps you can give us further discount on the designing aspect, or you can give us a 100% discount on it.
Like the character of Uncle Scrooge from 'A Christmas Carol', the shoestring budget client is extremely penny-pinching. He expects you to give him heavy discounts. He thinks that he has done a favor by giving you work, and getting it done at minimal cost is his rightful privilege.
Personality Traits
▸ Has a money-pinching attitude.
▸ Gets extremely happy at the mention of the word 'discount'.
▸ Looks for ways to get more and pay less.
▸ Is an expert at bargaining.
▸ May even lead you to pay out of your pocket.
Dealing With Him
▸ One way is to hike the cost so that the client will bargain and get it to the actual cost.
▸ Include a fixed cost in the contract itself.
▸ Mention the limit of the discount in the contract.
▸ Withhold the work, citing cash flow problems, and get an advance.
▸ Convince him that a discount beyond a certain amount is not possible.
▸ Threaten legal action, if payment is not done as per the agreed terms and conditions.
The Unrealistic Dreamer
Client: I want the launch of this product to be a grand one. I want a Hollywood celebrity to attend this program. Hire a football ground if you want, but this product should be the talk of the town.
You: I understand that you want to make a media splash with this launch, but you have to understand that the product is a mechanical product used by a niche technical base. It does not require FMCG kind of publicity.
Client: If you can't do this, then at least hire a helicopter for the Hollywood celebrity to make an impact.
The unrealistic dreamer is an amusing and curious client. He has elaborate and crazy ideas about different things related to work. Not only does he frustrate you with his bizarre ideas, but he can also take up your valuable time by indulging in long, fruitless discussions.
Personality Traits
▸ He is very hyperactive.
▸ He has big dreams and aspirations.
▸ He is very talkative.
▸ He has futuristic ideas, but they are not feasible.
▸ He is very curious and takes up a lot of your time.
Dealing With Him
▸ Set a time limit for your meeting.
▸ If the meeting is extending, tell him you have another appointment.
▸ Give him logical reasoning and bring him back to reality.
▸ Tell him that his ideas are good but are not currently workable.
▸ Offer him your paid consultancy services for discussing his innovative 'ideas'.
▸ When he digresses, make it a point to bring him back to the topic of work.
The Indecisive Client
Client: I liked the color and the elements of the design, but I am not too sure that it goes with our corporate theme. Wait, I will show it to our team and get back to you.
You: Okay, I will wait for your call.
Client: I consulted many people in our communications' team. They think that the design is okay, but we need some serious changes in the color, content, and copy.
The indecisive client lacks the confidence to take decisions which will work in the favor of the organization. He consults several people even for the smallest detail, and suggests many changes before giving you a go ahead. Hence, it takes a lot of time to complete tasks.
Personality Traits
▸ Does not know which idea or concept will work.
▸ Is not confident about the choices he makes.
▸ Lacks decision-making capability.
▸ Consults others for every small decision.
▸ Makes too many changes in the work and takes a long time to respond.
Dealing With Him
▸ Give him a limited number of options.
▸ Pursue him to see your mails and respond quickly.
▸ Boost his confidence by saying that he always makes the right choices.
▸ Convince him that too many cooks will spoil the meal.
▸ Create an urgency to finish the pending work at your end.
▸ Get an official go ahead on the work before finalizing it.
Some of the other types of clients are the 'Hands-on Client', the 'Tough Nut Client', the 'Forever Urgent Client', the 'Skeptical Client', the 'Legally Obsessed Client, the 'Non-technical Client, etc. Always assess their personalities before dealing with them. This will help you to design an interaction which will work in your favor.