How to Respond to Difficult Client Requests
If you're running a business, you're in the business of customer service and sales, no matter which way you slice and dice it. Now, in a perfect world, we'd never have to seek to build new business because every client would be over the moon in love with every single word you type and every conference call you lead. They'd be asking you how they can give you more money and have you do less. "Take a break," they'd say. "You're everything I've been searching for," they'd say. "You don't charge enough, add 20%," they'd say.
Sorry honey, that ain't how it works. But damn, if you live in that world, please send me an invite, I'm kinda funny and can bring giggles to the table, so if you're looking for backup, I'm your gal.
But for the rest of us, the real world looks something like Thumbthumping by Chumbawumba, "I get knocked down, but I get up again, you're never gonna keep me down." Then there's some drinking and some singing and a few super long days and then a couple more and then there's winning, and so on and so forth. (You're welcome for that 90s reference, by the way).
The point is, shit happens. So when shit hits the fan and clients throw you curve balls, what's the non-confrontational-I-still-need-to-run-a-business-and-can-we-still-be-friends approach?
I got you.
Now I don't know if someone else has coined this yet, but this is my approach whenever a client starts flirting with that scope creep line: AFOICH. I'll have to come up with a prettier acronym, but that's for another day.
Lastly, make sure to read back over your email and ask yourself two things:
Hi <name of client>,
(Acknowledge) Thank you so much for bringing this concern to my attention. I absolutely understand that you would like to add two more web pages to your website, given the new service offerings you've rolled out in your business. (Facts) Per our contract, we are currently scoped to build out 12 custom landing pages and this would bring the total to 14. (Options) Now, I know you're working on a budget, so I have a few ideas I'd like to run by you for consideration given this new request.
(Impact) If you decide that Option 1 seems like the way to go, we can move forward as is. If you'd like to take the path of Option 2, that will incur an additional X hours of work at Y hourly rate, for an additional cost of Z and may delay the launch of the website by XX business days. If you'd like to pursue Option 3, then that will incur an additional X hours of work at Y hourly rate, for an additional cost of Z and may delay the launch of the website by XX business days.
(CTA) I know your deadlines are quickly approaching, so in an effort to meet these for you, we'll need to know which path you'd like to follow by DATE at 5pm. If needed, we can draft up a brief addendum and will send over for your signature so we can be nimble.
(Humility) How does this sound? Is there anything I've missed or misunderstood?
Thank you again for the opportunity to work together!
And that's it folks. AFOICH your way to positive, mutually respectful client relationships and then let me know how it goes! If you have your own tips you'd like to share, please do! I'd love to hear from you at firstname.lastname@example.org!