“Choose a job you love, and you will never have to work a day in your life”.
What could be better than a job/career that makes you jump out of bed every morning? Finding meaning in what we do is what makes us one step closer to happiness. It is something that we all crave for. It’s the ideal of the modern era, one in which fulfillment is often more important than money.
Event planners definitely are among those who find meaning in their careers. Bringing people together, helping them evolve and (why not?) making the world a better place makes us jump out of the bed each morning (ok, maybe not on rainy Mondays). Although challenging, the event planning industry repays every drop of energy that we invest in.
How do you define a difficult client?
Event planners also have to deal with what most of us try to run away from: difficult clients. And when I say ‘difficult clients’ I don’t mean those who force you out of your comfort zone. Those bringing you projects so big that they keep you up at night. That want you to plan the perfect event for them. That inspire you to be better with each passing day. Those are the ones you will thank later.
No, I mean those clients that are never happy, no matter how good you deliver. But at the same time, they can never articulate their unhappiness. That, day in day out, make things more complicated than you have ever imagined they could be. Than never help, but often obstruct you. That want you to execute their ideas but at the same time never take responsibility for anything. That hope that you can read their minds (but would hate it if you could).
Difficult clients in the event management industry
There are many types of difficult clients because there are so many ways in which people can be difficult to interact with. But based on the discussions that I had with our #eventproffs friends, there are 4 types of clients that you will (probably) meet in your career.
The always angry/hostile client
It is always ready to argue over anything. He/she likes to intimidate those around. Every discussion is different, but all have one thing in common: a raised voice.
How to deal with a hostile customer?
It’s crucial to not take it personally because it really isn’t. It’s also very important to keep calm, another choleric person won’t do any good. Be polite yet firm, letting your client know that you are always in control. Show that you take him/her serious, but don’t let yourself impressed by the aggressive attitude.
There are situations when we really are responsible for our customers’ anger (but not the way they manage it), so try to see if there anything that you could do better.
The hesitating client
“In any situation, the best thing you can do is the right thing; the next best thing you can do is the wrong thing; the worst thing you can do is nothing.” Theodore Roosevelt
There are people who just can’t make a decision. That think and overthink. That need hours to make up their minds (for any silly decision) and then just completely change it. That get cold feet in front of a decision. And, in our careers, we’ve all meet someone like this. When managing events, time is the one resource that’s always missing. And those who’ve seen how a venue looks just hours before an event know what I mean…
Listen to your client and see what makes the decision so difficult for him. Try looking from his point of view and let him know what your opinion is. Whenever you can help your client decide by providing relevant data/visual support.
The all-wise client
Have you ever met a person that knows everything there is to know? I am sure you have. The person that hires an expert and then tells him how to do his job. That doesn’t even need arguments to back-up his statements.
I don’t know about you, but for me, this is the client that’s most difficult to manage. First of all be sure that you are always well-prepared and that you have all the possible information. You will need a lot of statistics to support your ideas. You will also need a lot of tact in dealing with someone that “has all the right answers”. Don’t let your ego stand in your way, it will only make things worst.
The silent/apathetic client
It’s the client that shuts down communication, building a wall around him. He doesn’t like complicated situations (well, who really does?) and thinks that silence can make them go away. How to act?
First of all, “patience is a virtue”. To make your client talk you will need to ask the right questions and take the time to listen. Really listen. Encourage him to tell you what he thinks about the venue or caterer that you have selected. Praise every good idea that your client comes up with and ask for advice. Make him feel important and you will see a higher level of involvement from him. Communication is the only way to build a strong relationship with a ‘silent client’.
Difficult clients can be one’s worst nightmare, but they can also make us go the extra mile. Not every difficult client is, in fact, a difficult client. Because sometimes the problem is not with them, it’s with us.
Unfortunately, there will be times when you will just feel that things aren’t going to work for you and your client. If you ever feel that it would just be better to let your client go you should read this fabulous article first.