I'm going to be honest here. Sometimes you're going to get a client that is going to be a jerk. In the 14+ years I've been working for myself, I have come across only two clients that fall into that category. I know that doesn't seem like a lot, but I don't work with a huge volume of people so two is a big number for me. For other businesses who may work for hundreds of clients in a month, that number can grow exponentially.
So, what am I talking about in this blog? I'm talking about how you can identify the jerk client and what you should do about it. Let's get into it.
Over my years and years and years of work, I have been in customer service-type situations and I have seen just about everything. I have been yelled at to my face, on the phone, in a voicemail, and in an email. And yes, you can get yelled at in an email.
Swearing. Abusive tone. And language I wouldn't say to ANYONE in a business setting. Quite frankly, I don't think I'd say some of things EVER.
It's at these times that I would like to tell these people exactly what I think of them, and how horrible I think they are. But I don't. Because I'm representing my client, so I have to put on my armor and extra large shield and take it.
The problem is, we really shouldn't end up at this place. We have to be more careful when we meet people in the beginning. We have to screen our potential clients more closely and we have to learn to walk away. Yes - that means walking away from some income. But let me tell you, that money is not worth all of the hassle you're going to have to deal with.
What makes a jerk?
Look, there are difficult clients and there are jerk clients. Difficult is fine. We're all difficult at times. Especially when we're frustrated or feel lost or feel like we're not being heard. When you're talking with a difficult client, even though you might be feeling a little stressed when they voice their concerns, you can understand them and in you're head you're formulating a plan to help them. You know it's not going to be easy, but once you get things rolling, you know they're going to ease up because you have begun to help.
The jerk client is going to be a pain in your ass from the first day. They will be overly demanding. They will be rude in every email and every phone call. They will expect you to work miracles in minutes. They will expect you to drop everything for them. They will expect you to respond to them on the weekend, in the evening, while you're asleep... They will ignore the realistic goals you set and decide their lofty (and extremely unattainable) goals are better, and then they'll berate you when you can't achieve them.
Every time you see an email from them or see their phone number on caller ID, your stomach goes into knots.
The situation sucks.
What do you do?
Stop working with these people. Seriously. You know how they're going to be because they're acting that way from the start. The income generated from them is not worth it. If they sign a contract with you and pay their deposit and then go into full on jerk mode, tell them "no thanks," give them the deposit back, and save yourself a whole lot of sanity and stress.
You can't fix them. They're angry about something and they somehow believe that it's okay to use that anger to treat you and your team (or anyone else) like garbage. Walk away. RUN AWAY. There are other clients out there. Good ones. Who want your help. Who understand what it means to have adult discussions and to behave in mature manner.