My typical client is a very busy marketing manager – someone with way too much responsibility on her plate. The clients who fit this profile work with me because they know I can take the ball and run with it, and that they can trust me to get things done right. That’s the good news.
The bad news is that these clients inevitably go MIA on me in the middle of a project, sometimes several times throughout a project. No amount of emailing or calling can get them to reply. Eventually they always emerge, apologizing profusely (or not) and then need to rush through the next phase of the project because somebody is screaming at them to get it done. And guess who then has to jump through hoops to make it happen?
In addition to the schedule slippage, I feel this lack of communication means I don’t get the information I need to do the job thoroughly, and because much of what I’m doing is strategy, it’s impossible to do my job in a way that is satisfying for me (even if it works for the client because she is able to “check the box”).
I’ve tried a number of things to keep this from happening and throwing my team off track:
- Instituting weekly check-in meetings (but during busy times clients neglect to call in for them)
- Putting a clause in the contract about “significant slippage” on timelines resulting in change orders (I’ve yet to enforce this)
I’ve gotten to the point in my business where I’ve decided I no longer wish to work with clients like this. Actually, I’d like to keep working with them – but I need to “retrain” them to be more engaged in the process.
Does this happen to any of you? What have you done to keep your clients engaged throughout a project? How do you keep your clients from going MIA?
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