Work with difficult customers. About customer focus, associates and brain peckers

    - There are no ugly women, there is little vodka
    - I won’t drink so much ...

    Everyone who works directly with the customer had to deal with the so-called. "Difficult" customers.
    Let's try to figure out where they come from, whether they are so difficult, whether they are all really difficult, who is to blame for this, what to do with them, and what to do to us, performers.

    We will define the terms and try to introduce some classification into the possible types of relationships WE (Contractors) and CUSTOMERS (Customers).

    1. Companions (Comrades)

    This is an ideal option. The client is very well versed in his field, clearly knows what he wants from the project, respects us as specialists in his field, listens to our opinion, respects our work, understands why he pays money and, accordingly, is ready to pay decent money for decent work. He is interested in the ideas of the Contractor, he generates interesting ideas.
    The contractor, respectively, respects the client, his money, and blah blah blah, all the same in return.
    We join forces when working on the project: both on the left we are the army, and on the right we are the army!
    This is what we should strive for, pulling other types of relationships in this direction.

    How do we work?
    It would always be so.

    2. “Obedient children” (“Obedient patients”)

    The client respects the knowledge and skills of the Contractor, is ready to be included in the work as far as possible. He admits that he himself does not very clearly understand what he wants, asks for help to formulate goals and objectives, and is ready to devote time to his specialists (learn lessons, go to procedures). He understands that the Contractor is not the Lord God, but only a good doctor, teacher, trainer, etc., and that the result of treatment, training, training largely depends on himself.

    How do we work?

    Gradually grow / educate an ally.
    We make sure that the obedient patient does not give up and does not move into another category.

    What is needed for this? Attention, education, training.
    There is a risk of corrupting the client during work and provoking him to unmotivated whims, which you either have to fulfill or aggravate relationships (up to abuse) in order to reach a normal level of work.

    3. “truants” (“Naughty Patients”)

    One of the most common types of relationships.
    The client understands that the project is important for him, does not doubt the professionalism of the Contractor, and trusts him. But because of the heavy workload and constant distractions to even more important matters, constant failures and delays arise in the work. Agreements can last for weeks. In this case, the Contractor does not shift the blame in any way, the Customer agrees that yes, he overlooked it here, did not prepare here. Well, all right, somehow, anyway, the project is moving with us slowly.

    “Truants” often do not greatly respect the work of the Contractor. Respect, but not much.

    This is how schoolchildren skipping classes, patients constantly forgetting to take a pill behave. Both of them, in general, understand that education is necessary, that you need to value your health. But somehow it does not add up. One thing, then another.

    The difficulty is that the Contractor sharply increases the number and duration of switching: work on the project - pause - work on another project - again work on the first project. Accordingly, labor costs increase.

    How do we work?
    Patiently work, educate, try to bring relations to a higher level. Sometimes it happens.

    To work with such clients, we introduced the following clause in the standard contract:

    In case of untimely submission of materials by the Customer, failure to provide authorized specialists, delayed approval deadlines for the implementation of work stages (design, etc.), the Contractor has the right to postpone the deadlines for the performance of work at its discretion. If the work is delayed due to inconsistency of the Customer’s actions for more than two months, the Contractor has the right to stop the work under this contract. At the same time, the amount of prepayment is refunded to the Customer minus the costs incurred by the Contractor.

    The important point here is that we shift the deadlines at our discretion. Because we are busy with other work. We will wait until the next “window” appears for us to resume work on this project.

    4. “Naughty children” (“Naughty patients”)

    The client does not understand and does not want to understand that his whims cost the Contractor many hours of additional work. ("Mom, buy me this doll. I don’t like this dress anymore, now buy me another." And Mom needs to take money somewhere).

    How do we work?
    If the relationship went into this direction, it is urgent to bring them to another level.

    Work on a rather long and complex project began with pronounced cooperation relations. On the part of the Customer, different specialists connected to the project at different stages depending on the current tasks. At the stage of design development, two girls connected who were responsible for advertising, design, etc. in the company of the Customer. The contractor was quite clearly set the task of designing the site. It was also clearly done. Everyone liked everything, but the customer asked me to make another option. In the contract, meanwhile, it was indicated that the second version of the design is carried out only if the designer, as they say, “did not hit”. Then the Customer had to provide a reasoned refusal, indicate that he did not like why this option was rejected, and the Contractor then took on the second, and even the third.

    Since the work was carried out with enthusiasm, the Contractor took and completed the second version of the design without any reservations. And also good, and also everyone liked everything. And the girls from the Customer were also carried away by the process: “How great, but let's get the third option!”

    There is already a Contractor, wiping sweat from his forehead, slowly says, they say, probably enough already, let's decide somehow on the design somehow. To which the representatives of the Customer unanimously: “We want the third option, we want, we want, we want!” Contractor’s manager, let them convince you that there is a contract, both design options are excellent, with which the Customer agrees, and that work on the third option will inevitably delay the entire project. In the end, the representatives of the Customer were seriously offended, they said that they refuse to work with such non-client-oriented managers. I had to arrange a showdown for two directors. To the credit of both parties, since the mood was constructive, after an hour of negotiations, all points on the “i” were placed. Mutual apologies were made, the work again went into the mainstream of cooperation, and this still remains.

    5. Doubters.

    The customer understands that he understands little in this matter, and that the Contractor knows much more than he does.

    It seems like he almost trusts the Contractor, but always keeps his eyes open, confident that the Contractor can screw up somewhere. No, he’ll surely screw up, albeit not on purpose. No, somewhere he deliberately falsifies or charges prices, because the Contractor knows that the Customer does not understand anything in this matter, so he must be deceiving us somewhere, otherwise what will he live on? Etc.

    How do we work?

    It is necessary to destroy the doubts of the Client. And the sooner and more, the better. And remembering the constantly emerging new doubts, regularly take preventive measures: compare options, talk about pitfalls, and dispel fog. If this is not done, there will be constant delays, checks, cross-checks and clarification of relationships.

    For such cases, we prepared the phrase in the contract:
    “The customer is aware of the level of quality, service and cost of the Contractor's services. This agreement was not concluded due to the ignorance of the Customer ”, - it was borrowed from standard agreements under which banks give loans.

    Another option is simply not to work.
    So the doctor does not work with the patient if the patient does not trust him. A coach with a doubting athlete does not work. If you came here - that's it, relax and trust, otherwise there will be no work.

    6. Master-Slave Relationships

    Alas, a fairly common option in our business culture. “I pay you loot, so it should be the way I want. You’re a sucker here, and with my money I’m giving you the opportunity to live a little longer, ”etc.

    In this case, there is no question of any respect for the Contractor as a specialist. On the contrary, for every minor mistake, delay, defect, or just for the sake of tone, the Contractor may be awarded with a contemptuous sentence: “You are not a professional.”

    By the way, one of my acquaintances, the director of the restaurant, said that they also have their own classification of customers. Remember, as in the song: "who came to get drunk, who came to fight, who came to listen to the latest news." So, in their classification there was a whole "squad" of those who go to the restaurant to mock the waiter. Yes, yes, it turns out there are some. Apparently, in this way they solve some of their internal complexes. How do they work with such clients in a restaurant? Allocate specially prepared waiters for them who have iron nerves and who understand everything and are included in this “game”. Just a bdsm of some kind.

    Well, it's in a restaurant, they make money on it, and how much you need such “customers” for your company is up to you.

    How do we work?

    Better not to work.

    It was a long time ago. We were approached by a woman - a marketer from one company. They had a website, but it was made back in the 90s, it’s morally outdated, it’s not updated, we need a new one. The conversation, it seems, immediately went in the right vein: goals, objectives, target audience, etc. etc. Casual and humorous, a woman told how she recently ordered a logo in one company, and how she was made 50 options, and how they do not know how to work at all, and showed these 50 options (among them were very good, I must say). Oh, how much later we still recalled such "casual" abandoned by this lady on a variety of topics. But we just ignored these signals.

    As a result, after six months of work, and I don’t remember how many design options, we ourselves began to think that we probably really do not understand anything. Negotiations with the higher leadership gave only a temporary effect: we had already agreed on almost everything and decided everything, but then everything again went in a vicious circle - this woman was married to someone from the bosses there. When the customer said that since nothing works out, let's stop the work, we gladly stopped it. In response to the demand to return the prepayment, we said in good conscience that this was out of the question: the work was done on three sites. They even tried to sue, but nothing came of it.

    The most important part of this story is that after four years the site of this company has not changed!

    The question arises: did this lady need a site, did she need to solve some marketing problems? No, the process itself is interesting, nothing more. Another thing is that she herself may not be aware of this.

    7. Special type. Brainworms

    They very rarely order anything, if they order, then for a penny. But very often they come up with meticulous inquiries: “And how much will it cost? And what is the best way to do it - this way or that? And if so, when can you do it? But in another company they told me that it would cost so much, but how much do you have? And what is better for you, and why is it more expensive for you? ” Etc. Such people usually do not have a sense of time, so they absolutely do not value it, either their own or the Contractor. It is not their fault, it is their misfortune.

    How do we work?

    We are trying to contact with another specialist in the company of the Customer. Perhaps with another person, the work will go completely differently. (Most likely it will be so.) If it doesn’t work out, we will bill you for brainstorming, sorry, for consulting.

    The last option is to stop working.

    We have been servicing the site of one company for a long time. They constantly received requests for all kinds of rework, alterations, amendments, banners, etc. First, each alteration was discussed for a long time, then the cost of work was agreed upon for a very long time (and the amounts were in the region of 1 -2 -3 thousand rubles), price justification and options for reduction, installment payments were required. The maintenance of this company took from 5 to 20 hours of working time per month. The amount of work performed - from zero to 5 thousand rubles per month. Moreover, the replacement of managers on the part of the Customer leading the site did not lead to anything - the work was carried out in exactly the same way. In the end, we just announced that negotiations on ICQ, phone, etc. in this volume we no longer hold, if you want - sign up for a paid consultation. And all the minor improvements on a prepaid basis.

    The situation immediately returned to normal. Some small work is carried out from time to time, but everything is pretty quick and immediately for the money.

    To protect against the development of this type of relationship, we have prepared restrictions in our standard service contract: consultations no more than 1 hour per month, and then we have the right to issue an additional consulting bill, which the Customer agrees to pay. If you do not pay, we naturally have the right to stop providing any services for this client.

    This classification, like any other classification, does not purport to be complete, but only provides some guidelines for diagnosing the situation and, accordingly, for taxiing in the right direction.


    Diagnostics of the client, prediction of the type of possible relationships with him are necessary before starting work with him, before signing the contract. Moreover, it is important that not only the Contractor understands with whom it is dealing, but the Customer also understands with whom it is dealing and what to expect in the future. At the stage of negotiations, indicate what he can expect from you and what he cannot. Ask provocative questions, tell stories from your practice.

    How to diagnose? Just like in any other "industry."

    For example, if a young man treats a girl to Coca-Cola, and she replies: "No, I love Pepsi." And when he comes running to her with Pepsi, she will say: "Fu, warm." And from the butterfly fluttering around, the girl shies: “She will soil my dress with her pollen.” It is difficult to predict how the future family life of this couple will turn out?

    So here, for minor symptoms, you can see the possible development of further relationships.
    To the potential client’s phrase “It will be difficult to work with us”, you can proudly say: “But we are not afraid of difficulties!”, And get the contract form. And you may ask: “In what case can difficulties arise? What do you mean by “hard to work?” Etc.
    The less ambiguities at the first stage, the easier it will be for both the Customer and the Contractor.

    While working on the project, the type of relationship may change. It is important to keep abreast and adjust relationships.

    Behind any Customer (as well as the Contractor) are specific people. Their personal qualities, experience, life values, complexes - all this clearly affects the type of relationship "Client-Client". It may be enough to reach out to other people among the employees of the Client, switch the contact to another person in order to resolve the situation. Perhaps it’s worth switching to another manager from the Contractor’s company to work with this client.

    At the very beginning of work on one small project, we were faced with the fact that the manager on the part of the Customer shows the typical features of a “doubting brain-pecking”. Attempts by our manager to transfer relations in a different direction have failed.
    Then, as a director, I had to arrange a meeting with their director. We all came together, our two managers, two directors. We seriously talked, laid out the situation. I said that let us either trust us or stop working, and look for those whom you trust. Otherwise, we all just torment ourselves.

    Everyone understood everything. The manager on the part of the Customer, they soon replaced. Since then, we have been calmly and constructively interacting for more than three years.

    At the same time, there are often cases when each representative of the Customer, the entire Customer, including all managers, directors, secretaries, drivers and watchmen, behave in approximately the same way. This happens when a given behavior algorithm is assigned in a collective as a group norm (there is such a term in psychology). Then switching from one employee to another will not do much. Either keep working, adjust, or say goodbye. In our practice, there were three or four cases when we refused to continue working with a specific Customer. So what? Horror, tragedy, did we die of starvation? Not. It really became easier to work, more time appeared to serve other customers and attract new ones.

    Do not sprinkle ashes on your head if relations with a particular customer have not developed. The phrase "there are no bad people, but there are people on whom we did not have enough spiritual strength" sounds very beautiful, but definitely not enough for all-all mental forces. We have to choose: we spend our spiritual strengths on the prospective, we bring them to our comrades-in-arms, on the unpromising ones - if the forces remain; try to bring them into perspective.

    In each case, it’s worth figuring out where, at what stage the failure occurred, why we misdiagnosed the client, and most importantly, how we provoked him to such and such actions. If there are our "schools" - there is an opportunity for growth.

    What is this song about.
    Without efforts on both sides, both Contractors and Customers, civilized norms of relationships will not work out.
    The most effective are relations of cooperation and alliance for both sides.
    Let's work on it all together: both Contractors and Customers.
    And further. And we are thinking about what type of relationship we gravitate towards when we ourselves act as the Customer?

    In this article we do not consider the marginal cases of the Contractor’s militant incompetence, inability to “listen and hear,” etc. This is a separate topic.

    We believe that all readers are super pros (and here, after all, they are mostly pros) who work in the emerging web development market.

    By the way.
    Recently we received an invitation to participate in the tender.
    What type of relationship do you think the customer is aiming for when he announces such a tender? Names and surnames deleted. Spelling and punctuation saved.
    Good afternoon!
    The industrial group "....... .." announces a tender for the manufacture of the site www
    The purpose of the tender is to determine the contractor for the manufacture of the site. The tender is held in two stages - from 03/03/2010 to 03/16/2010 (the time frame can be changed, both in the direction of increase and decrease). The winner is determined by the results of the second part of the tender. Tender participation is free.

    We invite companies and private individuals operating in the Russian Federation to participate. Requirements for participants: full agreement with the terms of the tender; strict adherence to the time frame established by the tender; portfolio availability (at least 10 completed projects for large Russian or foreign enterprises for participating companies and 5 sites for individuals); the ability to collect recommendations from previous customers (verbally or in writing); constant personal contact in the process of working on the site, coordination of all actions, work with the heads of departments, to fill out the site.

    - to give the user a general idea of ​​the company;
    - maximize interest, ensure a repeat visit;
    - attracting additional customers and ensure visibility among visitors. Open part from 03/03/2010 to 03/10/2010.

    After a public announcement of an open tender, we ask everyone to participate in it, send a presentation or press release about the company to tender @ ........... ru, which includes the following information: year of foundation and number of staff employees, technical base, customer list (with links to created sites); Contact persons in customer companies to collect recommendations. Price list (it is supposed to list the main services provided by your company).

    Please note that we do not enter into negotiations with bidders for the duration of the open part. You can send all additional questions to the above address and we will answer them.

    The closed part from 03/10/2010 to 03/16/2010. Based on the results of the open part of the tender, no more than five winning companies will be selected. The names of the winning companies will be sent to all participants. A meeting will be held with each company to discuss the details of further work, preparation of technical specifications, determination of terms and everything else that is necessary for work.

    The companies participating in the closed part of the tender prepare the following materials, at least three options for the design of the front page of the site, the timing and stages of production, a detailed estimate, options for the technical solution of the tasks and the proposed know-how, additional services.

    Based on the results of the closed part of the tender, the winner will be determined with whom the contract for the manufacture of the site is concluded.

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