Dealing With Difficult Clients: SES Chicago 2007, Day 4

Dec 7, 2007 | 2,417 views | by Navneet Kaushal
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Whether they're confused, busy or just uncooperative, clients can pose challenges. This session will explain how to head off issues or solve them along the way, including:

  • Speaking frankly about architectural and design issues
  • Diving deep into historic web analytics
  • Identifying mission-critical pages that lack content
  • Being truly consultative – shaping what keywords make sense for the client given their site age, content, inbound links, etc.

Moderator: Jeffrey Rohrs, VP, Agency & Search Marketing, ExactTarget,

Speakers: Mike Murray, VP, Search Engine Marketing, Fathom SEO, Kendall Allen, Managing Director, Incognito Digital, Simon Heseltine, Director of Search, RedBoots; Serengeti Communications

Michael Murray comes up first for the presentation, he explains that difficult clients want solutions + assurance, you can avoid the problems by framing the right expectations and conveying a consistent message. You'd find them to magnify the points they make, good thing to do is to pay attention to conferences and calls. Keep all the details on clients. You'd need, signed agreements, terms & conditions, control methods, time commitments, collaboration channels etc. if they are to be a part of measurements they'd need complete and quick access to info.

You can handle the objections by getting to the roots through questions viz. what is the problem? what caused the problems? what are possible solutions? what's the best solution?, about handling concerns, you need to be proactive with direct communication, don't use voice mail messages, etc. prepare yourself with a response and call up with in a business day. If you get more people in meetings it shows dedication and resources you're using for addressing their concerns. This 'show of force' can be assuring, try to be consistent and respond quickly.

Jeff wants to know about the ways to manage expectations, Simon says its complete requirements identification and their clear statement. Kendall agrees and emphasizes the need for defining the scope right. It's a process though, you've to keep working on them in conjunction with each other, you'd have to revisit the level of service and quality issues over time. Michael suggests a schedule of 6 weekly calls from the starts, so that they get into the groove of discussing often. Simon says you could face surprise if you've been dealing with the middle layer and suddenly find yourself face to face with the C Suite.

Simon's the next one to present, he'd deliberates on the typology of difficult clients, there are 6 types he says. #1 “I want it yesterday” client. #2 “The Denier” they don't adhere to advise, only implement in part and second guess things. #3 Then there's the “sneak attacker” or the “Invisible man” they show a pattern of disappearing and reappearing as the clients of category #1. #4 “The scope creeper” their scope increases even before you know it, eg 1 site audit shoots up to 3, etc. #5 is the “The spy” they are prone to dump you, 'coz as they consult you they train their own people. #6 is the “lack of internal process client” eg when sometimes IT teams copy stuff on other pages, and it makes it tedious to understand the changes as they appear in analytics, it leads to inaptly implemented and reused advice.

When you deal with difficult clients, pro-activity's the key, clarify expectations at the outset, update 'em regularly based on a prefixed schedule, identify and solve issues ASAP. As a last resort fire them if they are a complete pain.

Jeff want to know about dealing with the different communication patterns of clients, due any reason viz, demographics, etc. Kendall suggests that you ask 'em about their communication style and operation, once you know it, adapt to it. Jeff questions, whether there's a need to document this, Kendall says that they don't do it 'coz they don't want to appear over diligent.

Kendall Allen gives the example of how they operate, they focus on good relationships with a few clients, they help them with branding + conversions, it's a challenging dual metrics campaign. They try to build long term relationships, some clients can be quite challenging. Managing expectations is continuous, they help clients prepare internal reports. The good and bad ideas from the clients need to be dealt with accordingly, bad ideas are edited. You need to think from a long-term perspective.

Dealing With Difficult Clients: SES Chicago 2007, Day 4, 5.0 out of 5 based on 1 rating
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Navneet Kaushal

Navneet Kaushal is the founder and CEO of PageTraffic, an SEO Agency in India with offices in Chicago, Mumbai and London. A leading search strategist, Navneet helps clients maintain an edge in search engines and the online media. Navneet's expertise has established PageTraffic as one of the most awarded and successful search marketing agencies.
4.thumbnail Dealing With Difficult Clients: SES Chicago 2007, Day 4
4.thumbnail Dealing With Difficult Clients: SES Chicago 2007, Day 4