Ways to Deal with Toxic Clients

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Ways to Deal with Toxic Clients

Being a business owner you are bound to come in contact with a lot of people from different backgrounds, personality and with different outlook to life. You will definitely also get to interact with a fair share of idiots and unnecessarily difficult persons. This is one of the hassles of being a business owner

Understanding human behaviour is one of the most important things business owners need to master before setting out on their business voyage. Understanding human behaviour cannot be overemphasized as it is a very important pillar in running a successful business. 

A popular saying goes thus: Customers are always right. But when is “always right” no longer acceptable? As business owners, we need to understand our clients (human behaviour) and also know where to draw the line.

Toxic relationships whether in business or personal relations are more than an annoyance. They drain you of your time and leave you frustrated and maybe even depressed. If not checked, toxic client will result in a drastic reduction in your work quality, reduce your earnings and might even prevent you from getting other clients.

This article will show you how to identify toxic clients and how not to dance to their tune.

The client who makes communication difficult

Communicating with clients is one of the most important pillars of running a successful business. This is because proper communication will help you accurately meet the expectations of your clients.  With this in mind, you will expect communication to be pretty straightforward and easy. However, this isn’t always the case as some clients make communication a herculean task. Some clients will want to spend a ridiculously huge amount of your time on calls and unnecessary meetings. Some will expect you to be at their beck and call 24/7, while some will prefer to hoard crucial information concerning their project leaving you running in circles. 

What do you do when your clients have communication issues?

Hopefully, your contract contains your availability schedule. If it does, draw your client attention to the contract and stick to it. If your contact does not have an availability schedule, kindly point out the client’s proposed deadline adding that too much or inadequate communication will make the deadline not feasible.

Clients who increase your workload without a corresponding increase in pay (the scope creeps)

There are basically two ways scope creep may occur during a project

  1. The client honestly did not have enough information on the workload their project entails. If in this instant, you also are unaware of what is needed to complete the project and go by the details given by the client. You might have a huge amount of extra workload on your hands with possibly no pay.
  2. The client tries to add more workload to the project, beyond your already specified scope.

What to do to avoid scope creep

First, it is advisable to get all the details of a project before billing the client. If, however, you notice a project going beyond the already specified scope you are to STOP and communicate with the client. Don’t carry out any extra work until you’ve reached a consensus with the client.  You might, however, need to consider an exit plan if the client refuses to pay extra.

Late, Incomplete or No payment at all

One of the major downsides of being a business owner is having to chase your paychecks after completion of the project. The best way to avoid this is to receive at least 70% of your payment before commencing work. It is also important to remind the client from time to time of the agreed price. If possible include a late payment fee. As a last resort, you may have to stop work on a project pending the time all outstanding payments are made.

In addition to the above, it is quite important to set boundaries before embarking on a project and stick to it. Do not accept vaguely described projects. Ask clear-cut questions and make sure you get well-defined answers to them. You should also clearly state the number of revisions you accept per project.

Many business owners especially start-ups find it quite difficult to say NO they instead agree to a lot of unfavourable conditions so as to keep a client. Many of the toxic clients you have today might be because of your “Yesss”. Learn to say NO.

In conclusion

Paying a lot of attention to toxic clients will not only affect your business, but it might also leave a dent on your self-esteem. I know it is also almost impossible to identify a toxic client before you start working but when you do ensure to set boundaries. If the client is proving to be much of a disturbance I advise you to FIRE them. Do it in a polite and professional manner. Inform the client that the relationship was no longer beneficial and you would like to terminate it. Do not give in to the urge to lash out. You don’t want to become popular for the wrong reason. Reputation is everything, don’t lose it to a toxic relationship.

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