How to avoid masochism in dealing with problem clients

When I first started doing design, I heard all sorts of things about clients. Shabby freelance colleagues as one scribbled “Clients = fagots” in their blogs. But I was wondering. It’s interesting to have your own opinion.

At first, everything went well: there were minor misunderstandings, but books on negotiations helped to resolve conflict situations. Everyone was happy: clients, me, homeless cats for whom I organized a free canteen in my entrance. I sincerely began to believe that there are no difficult clients, but only untapped negotiation skills.

But one wonderful day my positiveness descended from heaven to earth, received a Russian passport and began to emit the aroma of morning fumes. He appeared on my way: an expert on everything in the world, a demiurge of selling design and creativity, a person who loves a bigger logo and a smaller prepayment, the same representative of a squad of fagot customers that I encountered only on the Hell Clients website. Subsequently, his brothers lined up behind the first problem client in a long line, like in the USSR for sausage. The blacklist, consisting of one person, has been replenished with three more interesting copies.

Acquaintance with them was like a glass of cold water poured into your face. I set myself a goal: to understand how to deal with them painlessly.

To do this, I created a separate folder on my computer where I kept all the recordings of the dialogues. At first I named the folder “Pidaras”, but then I renamed it “Vadim” (in honor of the “first” client). Considering the many years of experience of communicating with Vadims, I think the meaning has not changed much.

And now to the point.

Who will we call Vadim

Vadim is a client who in every possible way creates difficulties for the designer and climbs into the development process without understanding the task. In controversial issues, he prefers to resort to argumentation of the level of preschool children, such as: “I want it so”, “I like it so much” or “Those were the last words of my parrot.” Vadim can be a person with any name, income and education.

How Vadim’s brain works

Vadim is a very delicate, vulnerable soul. Vadim needs to be treated like a child, and if he wants to play with fonts, logo size or creativity, you need to not only not interfere with him, but also keep company. Otherwise, you risk being left without payment. Understanding of design and the peculiarities of working with a designer comes to Vadim over time and is learned exclusively in the form of a game.

Where Vadims live

The distribution area of ​​Vadims is in areas where the difference between “cool” and “shit” is so subtle and unclear that it is difficult for a layperson to feel it. You will meet a huge number of Vadims if you do web design and logos. This is due to the ease of mastering the software.

15% of the world’s population can develop a logo or site layout (more precisely, what theoretically looks like a logo or site layout), unlike, for example, write a game for IOS or make an animation video using After and Cinema. The longer the period of time elapses between the beginning of the study of the sphere and the status of Vkontakte “I accept orders for …”, the less likely it is to run into Vadim. But the probability is always there.

Also, Vadims prefer not to be found where the price is higher than the market one. According to this parameter, Vadimov is united not by the lack of money (I know a lot of Vadims who have everything ok in this regard), but by the general question “What is there to pay for?” Therefore, if you take two logo makers with a price tag of 5 thousand rubles. and 100 thousand rubles, then only the first one recognizes the traits of Vadim in the target audience of his clients.

How to work with Vadims

After reading all the correspondence with Vadims, I highlighted several points at which I made a fiasco.

1. Work according to the system: 50% advance payment at the beginning of the project, 50% in the middle

This minimizes the risk that Vadim will throw you. Even better: 100% prepayment. But, Vadim would not be Vadim if he paid everything at once, so we take off our rose-colored glasses and read on.

In my observation, the speed of movement of the turtle is suspiciously close to the speed with which Vadim is sent post-payment. Perhaps everyone, before clicking on the “Send” button in the SberbankOnline interface, flashes through Vadim’s imagination with alternative options for spending funds. The system “money first, then chairs” will help to cope with his doubts.

Having sensed Vadim in the client, be sure to insure yourself against financial risks. Overdoing is better than underdoing.

2. Always write in a separate file: scope of work, deadlines, conditions, references and wishes of Vadim

To work under a contract or not is the choice of everyone, I personally believe that in our country they can be wiped off. It is important to have a separate file, where all the agreed conditions and volumes of work are written in understandable human language: if a conflict situation arises, there is where to poke your finger (or Vadim’s nose). Sometimes it comes to the ridiculous: a client ordered a web design, and you only at the end of the work find out that in his view the web design service includes the development of a logo. If you neglected tip number 1, congratulations: in addition to the opportunity to practice in drawing brand names, you will gain an invaluable life lesson. Or you will be left without post-payment.

In such a delicate matter as design, all work must go strictly according to plan. Something for sure. If there is no plan, there are people in Telegram who will help.

3. Give Vadim a choice
Vadim # 2: “I think that the logo in the upper left corner of our site is not cool, let’s put it in the center and make it on the floor of the screen.”

It was at 01:00. My first reaction is to figure it out on the ip, come to visit and fill his face with brilliant green. Having thought about it, I came to the conclusion that it is stupid to squander the green stuff for non-political purposes. I tried a more humane way: go to a meeting with a madman and make his version of the layout. With shaking hands, I vandalized my layout, then saved it in a new file with the self-explanatory name Eto_prosto_pizdec.psd, exported the zhpg and sent it to Vadim (the most important thing in such situations is not to forget to rename the zhpg’i). It dawned on him that the original version was more advantageous. We discussed a little more on Skype and that’s where we finished mocking the layout.

Vadim has a poorly developed imagination: he can understand what is better and what is worse only by seeing it.

Visualize the nonsense that comes to Vadim’s head. Give him the opportunity to compare and choose.

4. Never argue with Vadim

When communicating with Vadims, the main rule is not to argue. Vadims believe that everyone knows (unlike the morons like Socrates, who know nothing). Anyone who dares to say that he is wrong, Vadim considers a fool. The converse is also true: if a person does not argue, then he immediately seems smart to Vadim.

Sponsored by questionable lectures on large forums, the speakers of the capital’s studios adore trying to tell that the designer’s task is to sell the solution that he considers correct. Okay, then the task of the studio is to keep a specialist in communication with reality on the staff, to remind the fans of PR that there are budgets in the world at which it is stupid.

Do not argue with Vadim, but simply use point 3. If it helps, you will save the design, if not, you will at least earn money for a doshirak.

5. Involve Vadim in the process

Earlier it was said that the only way to convey to Vadim that he is wrong is to agree with him, and then unobtrusively demonstrate a more successful solution. One moment: you cannot say “MY solution”, you have to say “OUR new solution”. It is very important for Vadim to consider himself an irreplaceable link in the design process. If you want to receive your post-pay on time, it is important to constantly emphasize the importance of Vadim’s participation.

Communication should be built not in a vertical, but in a horizontal form: you propose a solution, describe the pros and cons, and consult with Vadim. If something does not suit him, you are interested in how, in his opinion, it is better to do it.

It is important for Vadim to assert himself. Involve him in the process so that he feels that the final result is also his merit. It is beneficial for you: it will be morally more difficult for Vadim to kill his own brainchild than someone else’s.

6. Explain everything to Vadim in detail
Vadim doesn’t understand nichrome in design.

Because of this, it will be difficult for him to decide to say a firm “YES”. Rather, you will hear something like, “Let’s try other options.” Or get a curious prototype from him.

Your task is to anticipate Vadim’s questions and answer them in the presentation. It won’t take long and will have a positive impact on your relationship. Detailed reports in Microsoft Word with evidence of each decision, links to real-life projects where similar chips are used, and references to articles by professionals on similar problems are suitable. The main thing is without water. A fat plus can be given to those who can present the animation of their interface – half of the questions disappear immediately.

Help Vadim figure out what you have done. The number of edits is directly proportional to the degree of Vadim’s understanding of how your solution will work.

7. When Vadim is deaf, pretend that you are blind

All the previous points are capable of influencing the situation only if your Vadim still has the ability to listen to other people’s opinions. But sometimes, one can only dream of such luxury.

Face it, not all projects will go to the portfolio. Even more than not all. 70% of the works are generally better not to show if your name is not Artem, and your last name is not Lebedev Only he can behave this way, the rest are shy.

If out of everything that you have shown, the client persistently chooses only the worst, and all your arguments are deafened, proceed according to plan B: do not explain to the addict that he needs treatment, not a dose. Give him a dose.

Like a victim of a maniac who is at gunpoint at his temple, fulfill the dirty desires that live in Vadim’s perverted imagination: rape all the rules of composition known to mankind, tie Swiss typography to a chair and thoroughly walk over it with a whip, draw graphics at the level of the tent-drain, and, barely holding back gagging, write in large print on the main page “Welcome!”

Hand over the layout. And run. Just faster: Vadim can catch up.

During the short time that I happened to work in the studio, the art director told me a phrase that I will remember forever:

“Design is like booze. My friend, for example, loves moonshine. Imagine he comes to the store to buy it. And the seller says to him: – “Why do you want moonshine? Better take vodka. ” It’s the same with clients. They need to be given what they come for. “

I would add one more sentence to his words: sell moonshine to those who do not want to drink vodka. And for those who want vodka, never sell moonshine.


Author: Clark Douglas

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