My idle musings the other day over that framed inscription “treat your clients the way you’d like to be treated” made me wonder whether a virtual assistant who has made it a rule to follow this pattern has instantly made a turn on a two-way road where clients are racing headlong towards their virtual helper. Chances are a virtual assistant has chosen a rough ride or even taken a risk to hit a dead end. Suppose your clients wish to be treated well then you are lucky to meet them halfway and how lucky you are we discussed in previous post.
But there is another category of clients that gives a virtual assistant hard time and makes it extremely tough to meet them halfway. For this reason virtual assistants need to exert themselves and treat such clients as if they were the best of humans but waiting until those walls tumble down and these customers turn into your great experiences is a lost cause.
Who are they and how we deal with them?
Those who expect to be treated even better
These are customers who either have never thought of necessity to treat virtual assistant the way they ‘d like to be treated or they have their own eccentric definition of being treated well.
On the way back to the office memories of my work with clients and my co-wokers’ stories came flooding back and I started mentally assigning customers into categories. Based on my observations this category gets filled up by following names:
1.Mr/Mrs. Constant Change of Heart
Inconsistent clients are your biggest time wasters, energy and strength sappers. While variety is motivation booster, working with clients who change their mind more often and faster than a speedreader turns pages is a big turn-off. Nothing is more demotivating than finishing an ample scope of work only to hear your client on the other end of the phone line, or by email notifying about having some second thoughts or entirely different strategy.
To avoid such major course-correction I tend to put everything in paper once the approach is chosen and line of work mapped out and send it for confirmation.
This one has totally lost track of time because obviously time is infinite for such clients who behave as a Prototype Series 3000 Terminator played by Jason Clarke in Terminator:Genesys. So they are plastering you to the wall with numerous duties, bury you under piles of work and drill down your head with “asap”. And as a quote from terminator series goes “It can’t be bargained with. It can’t be reasoned with. It doesn’t feel pity, or remorse, or fear. And it absolutely will not stop, ever, until you are dead”.
To break free from these shackles establish your working timetable, set deadlines, share them with Mr/Mrs. T-3000 and hold on.
Named after celebrated illusionist noted for his sensational escape and disappearing acts, these customers projected this skill into their working style. They ping you in Skype, send you email with one-sentence instruction and 5 minutes later do not answer back when you ask to clarify certain issues or remind to set a deadline. Worse-case scenario: they disappear for weeks and then all of a sudden out of nowhere you are attacked with endless amount of tasks.
Customers like this won’t bend you out of shape if from the very outset you arrange scheduled calls, weekly status reports and discuss working process
It is like having your business held hostage by a nightmare client. Exactly, nightmare. Virtual assistants start seeing them in their nightmares as often as during their waking hours. Be prepared to grow into your new role of breathless lifeless puppet in the hands of your puppet master. The puppeteer is not familiar with a concept of weekends, holidays or small hours. Your client is your master who owns you and expects full obedience, loyalty and servitude be it day, night, weekend, public holiday otherwise a thread will tear and leave you jobless, useless wreck.
Well, don’t leave your life hanging by a thread by coordinating your working hours with customers.
5.Mr/Mrs. Jack Robinson
With Jack Robinsons you have definetely scored a Pyrrhic victory. They either send you last minute tasks and expect them to be completed before you can say Jack Robinson or in most cases such customers want them done yesterday. They believe assigning work equals to having work done this very minute. Do not hesitate to educate such customers, explain them the meaning of the word impossible and set reasonable deadline.
It is up to you to decide whether you are willing to do acts of charity for clients who always complain about their temporarily limited funds and keep asking to lower fees.
Things are of course different with budding businesses but make sure you don’t fall into the trap of Mr/Mrs Pincher who is a struggling only in your eyes.
Did I miss something? Have you you seen more? Share your experiences