ART OF GRAPHIX: Types of clients and how to handle them

Clients have wildly differing needs. Knowing their characteristics and how to keep them happy is key. However, it is also smart to know how to escape what I would refer to as "the clients from hell". Know how to filter out the small number who is likely to turn your life into a nightmare before you accept their proposal. That doesn't mean, of course, that the remaining clients will all be a joy to work with. Ultimately there are different types of clients with different needs, and I have grouped them into five basic categories.

Note this isn't just for fun. By organising our client base in this way, you can better know what kind of time and resources each will require. Above all get inside your clients' heads and you're halfway there already.

High maintenance

This type of client requires that you hold their hands all the way. They're mainly first-timers at hiring professional designers and/or developers. Dealing with high-maintenance clients, requires being firm and fair and offering a very clear processes in advance. This will prevent them from becoming confused but allow you to explain how to move forward smoothly and also give them faith in your ability or your company.

High expectations clients

Clients with high expectations can be very difficult at times. They believe that to "merely change the design colors" takes a matter of minutes, or that making an Android version of the iPhone app just involves a flick of a switch. They should be forgiven and it's imperative that you offer this type of customer detailed breakdowns of every stage and the associated time involved. Whenever an overly ambitious demand is made, agree to a cost which avoids complication at the end of the project when it comes to invoicing!

Entirely unrealistic clients

Beware of clients with their heads in the clouds. These are newbies with unrealistic expectations; those who make the previous class of client look like grounded realists. Their dreams have the potential to end in tears, but with a little love, care and above all, patience, they will begin to trust you more.

Ask questions as to why they want X or who it is for. Inquire what research they have done and where they got the idea from. Be clear and be sure to explain the benefits and reasoning behind your processes, as well as costing.

Prompt clients

We all love the kind of client who knows what they want…don't we? This type of client knows what they want, and has prior experience. Understandably they just need it done. We all love these clients! Often they have content, design, logos, fonts and functional requirements in the barrel ready to shoot at a moment's notice. And surely they will require confirmation. They wish to know that you understood their requests, therefore always reply back with a summary of what you have understood, plan to do and by when. In other words, if your client is on the ball, you should be also!

Graveyard clients

This type of client is keen at the start but then the project goes cold. Emails go unanswered for days, resources get tied up waiting for feedback and the deadline seems so far in the future which makes it hard to reach it. This type of client you have to be firm with but fair. Firstly set dates and times for deadlines and explain the consequences if they are missed. And if you're still met by a wall of silence and inactivity, either let the project go and just wait for them to contact you again. Until we meet again, fill your life with memories rather than regrets. Enjoy life and stay on top of your game!

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ABOUT COLUMNIST: Ms. Deidre M. Bastian is a professionally trained Graphic Designer/ Marketing Coordinator and Certified Life Coach with qualifications of M.Sc., B.Sc., A.Sc. She has trained at institutions such as: Miami Lakes Technical Centre, Success Training College, College of The Bahamas, Nova Southeastern University, Learning Tree International, Langevine International and Synergy Bahamas.