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The Virtual Assistant’s Guide to Client’s from Hell

by Jocelyn Fernandez in Admin Support, Tips & Tricks, Virtual Assistant

Every Virtual Assistant had Experienced this…

It really doesn’t matter if you are a rookie virtual assistant or a customer service pro. Everyone has experienced those difficult clients that make any project a living hell.

The first step is to identify which type of client you have. All clients are not the made the same. They come in all different sizes, attitudes and demands. Some demands are realistic and others will have you pulling your hair out. But there is hope. Here are some profiles of those clients and how to spot them.

#1. The Is It Done Yet Client

This is the client who thinks everything can be done before they finish speaking. They are hard to deal with but here are some ideas to help you get them to see the reality:

  • Tell them the project needs a set of written expectations so everyone is on the same page.
  • Set boundaries and stick to them.
  • Educate the client on what is involved in getting the project completed.
#2. The Workaholic Client

This is the client who never stops working and expects everyone else to follow his lead. To handle this situation, you can:

  • Set work & time boundaries letting the client know you work different times than they do.
  • Don’t jump every time they call.
  • Use a second assistant who works different hours than you so your client can remain in contact with your team.
#3. The Very Indecisive Client

He or she cannot make a good decision and the project stalls because of it. Here is how to tackle this situation:

  • Create a plan of the project so the client has to make decisions.
  • Tell them the cost of the project increases every time the plan changes.
  • Get everything in writing.
#4. The Hands-Off Client

This is that client that does not want to be involved in the work. He or she just tells you to do it as you see fit and make the decisions. Here are some ways to handle this client:

  • Rookies should avoid this type of client. You will have nothing but troubles with them.
  • Get pre-approval for the plan first before you have to make decisions.
  • Get all instructions and decisions in writing so you are protected from complaints.
#5. The Non-Communicating Client

A very hard one to deal with as they seem incapable of giving you their thoughts and decisions. Here is how to take this client on:

  • Be very detailed in the plan and make sure the client agrees before starting on the project.
  • Provide options up front so the client can approve them first.
  • When they do not like something have them understand you are the expert and you are hired for your opinion.
#6. The Mind-Changing Client

The project is close to being finished and the client keeps changing their mind. Here is how to work with this type of client:

  • Create a strong detailed plan and include revision costs if those plans are changed.
  • Make sure the client understands you bill for all your time including revisions and past work.
  • Get approval of the project before you start working on it.
#7. The Firm/Not Firm Deadline Client
This type of client gives you a soft deadline, then out of the blue they change and say the deadline is now. Here is what to do when faced with this situation:
  • Give estimated times of completion so the client knows it is going to take some time to do the project.
  • Don’t give away your time and work on the project for free.
  • Ask for another worker to help you meet the new deadline.
#8. The Unknowing Client

This is the type of person that doesn’t know what they want, and they do not know how to tell you what they want. Here is how you address this issue:

  • Give the client options up front so they can decide what you should do.
  • Divide the project up into smaller sections and let the client give his or her feedback when those small sections are done.
  • Explain to them that you can’t proceed till they tell you what they want and approve of your plan.
#9. The Non-Business Business Client

This client is very dedicated to their business, but they are poor business men or women. Their decisions leave you scratching your head. Here is what to do:

  • Be truthful and direct about the project. Don’t withhold information and let the client see the reality of their decisions.
  • Explain when something won’t work and that changing the decision or plan will save them time and money.
  • Provide your client with consulting options and let them ask you for help.
#10. The Frugal Client

This is the cheap client every freelancer dread to get. They want to save money and not pay what the project is worth. Here is what you can do in this situation:

  • Overestimate the cost of the project and get approval in writing.
  • Do not give them free work.
  • Get approval before you do cost overruns.
#11. The Inclusive Client

This client thinks all details and options are already included in the approved project plan. Here is what you should do:

  • Make the plan and get the client to review it, then approve it. This enables you to remind the client what was in the plan prior to beginning the project.
  • Do not do fixed price projects.
  • Inform the client that extra work will be billed. Make sure the client knows about the extra work possibility and its cost.

Some Final Words

As a virtual assistant working remotely it is hard to spot the different types of bad clients that come along if you don’t know what to look for. While you have the freedom to pick and choose your clients, avoiding bad clients altogether is impossible and could backfire on you. They may spread the word that you canceled projects, etc., and you could lose another business. It’s best to work with them, but on your own terms.

The smart thing to do when these clients arrive on your doorstep is to follow sound advice listed above to make sure you avoid those sticky issues that turn a good client into a bad one.

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