Thursday, April 19, 2007

12 Breeds of Client

Freelance Switch, a site for freelancers of all types, has a nice post about different types of client personalities and how to handle them. It's applicable whether you're a genuine freelancer or working in a consultative role inside a large organization -- I recognized a lot of it from traditional dealings with consumers of interface design and usability, including previous managers. Some of my favorites, in the "recognizable but not so nice" category:
  • The Hands-On Client: The hands-on client is a frustrated artist, as soon as they walk in the door they will be telling you about their skill as an artist, illustrator, photographer or writer. The hands-on client already has a very specific idea about what they want and usually has very little interest in your thoughts on the matter.... If you feel you have an ethical responsibility to point out the flaws in your hands-on client’s directions, you are headed for conflict. Hands-on client’s secretly believe that they could do their job much better than you and that there is little or no specialist knowledge you could possibly impart. One oddity about working with a hands-on client sometimes occurs when you give in your creative ambitions and agree to do it their way. All of a sudden your hands-on client may accuse you of making them do all the work or not doing your job.
  • The I’ll-Know-It -When-I-See-It Client: The I’ll-Know-It-When-I-See-It client shares much in common with the uninterested client except in a more frustrating way. Their indecisiveness and inability to articulate what they are after makes them one of the few clients that it is generally best to steer clear of.
  • The Always-Urgent Client: All their emails are ‘highest priority’ and their couriers are always red-hot. They work on weekends and late into the night and think that everyone else does too. Additionally the always-urgent client often seems to think they are your only client and that their job should therefore be your highest priority as well as theirs.
  • The Decision-By-Committee Client: Usually inhabiting the world of large corporate clients, the decision-by-committee client can still be found in smaller operations where they share their decision making with a spouse, neighbour or dog. The decision-by-committee client is one who lacks a single point of authority and for which every decision must be approved by many people.
I'm breaking in a new tag for this one, a consulting tag.

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Anonymous steve said...

I like this...

I've been trying to think where I would put my last client (the most amazing client from hell I've had) .. I was consulting to a small but politically well-connected firm that was way over their heads with an Army project. Imagine an applied physics project where the contractor can't handle trigonometry and there of the four partners are lawyers. Throw in finding that your rate is 15 percent of what they are getting...

8:40 AM  
Blogger Doug said...

Most of these work just as well if you substitute "boss" for "client".

1:37 PM  
Blogger Lynn said...

Definitely, doug. And steve, the rate issue is the subject of an upcoming 3 part posting series in this new category. Sigh.

7:23 PM  
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