How dealing with hard customers?
How dealing with tough clients who tell you what to do (hard customers)? How to convert those that you think are unconvertable?
First of all let's imagine some strange and interesting situation…
Patrick : Good day, how your work? Love it. I’m looking for a logo.
SpongeBob : Thank you, I’d love to make a logo for you. However, I don’t do it the way we used to do just a few years back we go through strategy and then through that we find insights into who your customers are and how to help your business. Is that something that you want to do with us?
Patrick: That sounds nice but what I really want to get a logo.
SpongeBob: Yeah, you will get one at the end of the process. One that you’re not gonna have to sit there and question whether or not this is the right decision or not because truth be told design be fairly subjective.
Oftentimes clients will come to us and say I need a website I need this and once we understand who their customers are, we realize the focus shouldn`t be on that it should be on the design of the menu or to design a better customer experience and that the money is better spent elsewhere.
Most the clients that come to us through our process realize that there’s a deeper motivation as to why they’re doing this and what they do is a self-diagnose and prescribe a solution. Now in the real world if we went to the doctor and did that they would look at us like we’re crazy and just give me some penicillin cause I have a headache. Well the solution may not be connected to the problem and that’s why we do what we do.
Patrick: It all sounds good but I see you’re a logo designer and I just want logo so that’s what I want and that stuff is great. Now we’ve got that covered on our side and hard how we do things and so I just want you to design my logo. I have a general idea of what I want and already have it sketched out even so I think we can bypass alone.
SpongeBob: So you need somebody executed it for you?
Patrick: It needs some brushing up like it doesn’t obviously need the touch of a designer. It needs some help.
SpongeBob: Okay, I`m gonna be really honest and really frank with you, probably even to enter into a conversation with me about doing logos and what I do we’re gonna be north of 20.000$ to 30.000$ easily. From what you described to me, you could probably just hire some young graduate or maybe go onto one of these sites that broker design services give them the sketch and then have them just do it for you. You can save yourself a lot of money probably costs you a few thousand dollars at most. That’s probably something that you should consider doing. Why would you need all the stuff we bring to the table? This doesn’t make sense.
Patrick: Well, can you just cut all that extra stuff and we just go straight for the logo?
SpongeBob: I can’t. Would you really want pay for all that stuff for me to make the logo? If you willing to pay me the 30.000$ I guess, I could make a logo for you but that seems like overkill, doesn’t it?
Patrick: Well, I already what I want and I don’t have any way to go through this whole process and maybe go somewhere I don’t even want to go as far as like where you’re taking me where you’re talking about like we are all that stuff.
SpongeBob: So you’re the kind of customer that exactly know what they want so don’t need this. You’re right, so I can refer a couple people maybe. Is that what you really want?
Patrick: What ideally I’m talking to you I really want to hire you.
SpongeBob: I don`t think you do. I mean it`s like you’re saying two different things you say I want fast I want a cheap I wanted done yesterday. I don’t do that. I really don’t.
If you look at our work and I hope you’re calling us because you’ve seen our work and you like it. It’s not done this way so here’s the thing you ever hear that expression measure twice cut once because you get one opportunity to cut that piece of lumber. So what happens oftentimes his clients will make something and feel like that’s the right decision without any real parameters to decide why they should do something and then tomorrow they get a new idea and now they’re stuck with something and it’s not one when you go through and you’re making a lot of changes like this it doesn’t exactly send a signal of confidence to your consumers like why are they so indecisive why are they changing things.
So we get an opportunity to reintroduce ourselves every once in a while it’s not a daily monthly weekly occurrence I would just encourage you to think about that and if you really want to fast logo there’s lots of different things why don’t we just hire a logo designer for you and then you really want to transform your business and talk about how to grow it then come and engage with me on that because I don’t. I’m not in the logo building business. I’m in the brand building business. I’m in the client customer acquisition building business that’s what I do.
Patrick: All right, wow.
SpongeBob: How would should we proceed?
Patrick: I came to you for a certain thing and I feel like I’m not getting it. So I have to readjust what I’m going to do because I initially thought I was just gonna come to you for the logo which I still might but …
SpongeBob: Let me ask you something. What business are you in?
Patrick: I manufacture nuts and bolts.
SpongeBob: Okay, ever get it out customer come in and just say “hey I know you’ve been building nuts and bolts last a lifetime forever but I want you to build it this way. I want you to make it this way because this is the best way to do it”. You ever get that kind of customer?
Patrick: May put in special requests but not that extreme.
SpongeBob: Right. So if a customer did come in and say “you know I don’t think the injection molding (or whatever manufacturing process) is the right way. I want you to do it this way and I’m looking to order at once I need it done yesterday. How would you respond?
Patrick: Probably similar how you responded to me.
SpongeBob: So that’s the problem you see, it’s where experts for. A reason we make something and we have a very clear process that gives us very predictable results and it’s like you’re coming in here and you want to dictate how we make it and results well. That’s not how we work so as much as I’d like to work with you it’s not a good fit for us. If this doesn’t work for you, you know, I understand. You deserve to have a design firm to do exactly what you want I also want to work with clients who want the kinds of things that I can bring to the table.
Patrick: All right I’m still considering this. I’m would like to continue this dialogue at a later date.
SpongeBob: All right, why don’t we put pause on this and then circle back if it makes sense for you. I’ll be here.
SpongeBob: All right, thanks a lot.
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It's not over yet…
Pretty interesting, right? This is how dialog between brand strategist and hard customers looks like pretty often. Completely wrong communication language.
The main takeaway from this – client doesn't take creative agency as a business problem-solver, but a commodity. Which is completely not what smart agencies stand for (included us).
Next time we will analyze this situation and tell you how to make this conversation as smooth as possible. How to syncronize the language and bring value to both parties.
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