Sunday, January 13, 2013

Tips For Communicating With A Difficult Client

At some point in your career you may stumble into a troublesome client. How will you handle the situation? Knowing what you want out of the situation and your ability to communicate professionally will determine the outcome of your productivity and success...and impress upon future opportunities with this client or their referrals.

You'll find clients of all kinds knocking on your internet door. Some understand technology, some don't. Some have worked with illustrators before, some haven't. Some offer the rate up front, most won't. No matter what their experience - you must be professional enough to find out what contributions you will be expected to bring to the project.

Communication is important...clear communication is critical.
from Boris Lyubner's portfolio -

~ Start with and keep a great attitude and positive approach. Every email, phone call and/or meeting must be met with openness to listen to and learn the client's needs. Ultimately the client needs you to solve a visual problem.

~ Find out what the client is really looking for. If you don't understand what the client is asking of you - politely ask for clarification. Don't assume anything. Don't be afraid to ask questions. Assuming something can waste precious time. 

from Adam Niklewicz's portfolio -
~ If a client gets pushy or assertive - stay calm - often the pressure is coming from within their organization or the client may not understand your abilities or industry language.

~ Can you renegotiate if a project gets more involved than the scope of the project that was originally discussed? If you can re-discuss this it will diminish both of your frustrations and increase efficiency of the project.

from J.T. Morrow's portfolio -

~ Communicate clearly and concisely, especially in an email. No need for long emails. State what you want right away...and one issue per email please. 

~ Collaborate - most clients want you to make contributions based on your experience and creativity. They're not just hiring you for style.

~ Enlighten your clients when you feel that your approach is better for their outcome. Compromise when necessary. It will make the project easier to finish.

from Marcel Ceuppen' portfolio -

~ Be able to back your suggestions up with proven examples to support your decisions and direction.

~ Follow up all conversation in writing to recap what was discussed and refer to when needed so there are no misunderstandings. This will save time in the long run. Clients love it when you're organized.

~ Engage your clients with questions to express their thoughts and visual ideas and get them talking about their project. This is where you can really have fun with them.

~ Keep all communications open. If they impose on your productivity give them a time frame when you will be ready to show them what you're working on. If you know you'll be done by 3 pm that day, let then know you'll be in touch by 5 pm. This gives you enough time to tweak any changes, politely informs your client and keeps them in the loop.


  1. When facing any kind of working problem, I find it helpful to never take anything personally. It's just business and the less emotion we bring to the sticking points of an artist client relationships the better. I just try to stay pleasant in a matter of fact way and try to work out any issues cordially. This usually defuses any tention.

  2. This was good advice Greg - thank you for contributing.

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