Telling a client to hop off (politely)(5 Posts)
Just venting a bit.
I've been doing what I do for over a year now (at first on evenings and weekends, then more and more as my business grew). Most clients are delighted, a minority are less effusive but happy.
Bob orders from me, then immediately gets in touch via Skype, phone, WhatsApp, my website and email to ask whether we can speak. We have a conversation, in which he starts every sentence with my name but doesn't impart any more detail on the info I need from him to actually do the work. He sends over half a sheet of paper worth of info, rather than the 4+ pages most clients send. He'd like me to start from scratch etc. Odd, but fine.
I send on the completed work, after two more "Looking forward to hearing from you about our job" messages (on all channels), ahead of the clearly stated deadline. He asks for a call. He is unhappy. Deeply unhappy, with just about every aspect of the work. He doesn't like my content, but doesn't give me any more clues as to what he actually wants. Several of the things he suggests would be actively harmful to him, but attempting to explain that just results in him talking over me.
At some point during this call, I stop making notes and wait for him to STFU. I remember that this feeling of helplessness and pointlessness at the hands of various managers is precisely why I left my "day job" in the first place. I politely tell him that I don't think I have what he's looking for - to much protest from him - and that a refund is on its way.
That's all. Phew.
Oooh, well done. People like that usually don't understand as much as they think they do so they don't know how to ask for what they want. Most of the time they don't even know what they want, just that they don't want whatever it is that they have got.
I used to do statistical analysis and had the most trouble with people who didn't understand what it was that we did, but didn't want to admit it. Sometimes they would try to cover it up by being bossy and implying that I couldn't do my job properly. At which point my boss (loved him) would often pitch in and give them a flea in their ear. One of my colleagues had our dept's favourite saying pinned up over his desk "It might not be what you wanted, but it's what you asked for".
Those who didn't understand, but said so, were easier because I could ask them yes/no style questions about what they needed.
It's not even that I minded working through revisions with him - most clients need some revisions, and it's part of my job.
It was more the feeling that I'd revise, and revise, and then revise some more, only to end up refunding him a week down the line because he still wasn't bloody happy.
Super difficult - I am a people-pleaser - but the right thing to do in the circs, I think.
Definitely the right thing to do. The point at which people want you to do stuff that is not in their interest, and won't listen when you explain that to them, is a good time to cut your losses and drop them.
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