How to Organize Client Folders & Files: 6 Simple Tips to Try

Frustrated team, inefficient processes, overwhelmed brain . . . you know how it feels when your business tends to fade fast.

Help! I’m going crazy with all the digital paperwork!

This is an issue I often see when my clients and prospects are overwhelmed with the “piles” of digital documents around them.

What could be the culprit? 

Poorly organized, or even worse, unorganized client folders.

So, how to focus on the business and tend to the customers and clients when you have to hunt down hundreds of documents to get things done?

With folder structure.

Did you know that the typical American employee/employer spends two hours a week just trying to find papers?

Woah, that’s about a hundred hours a year!

Just take a deep breath and imagine you’re losing more than a hundred hours of productivity every year.

That’s profitability running straight out the door.

Losing money because your paperwork is not organized? It sucks.

But you can put a halt to all that disorder-craziness with a proper folder structure in place.

A Common Lost Brain Example

You’re in the middle of the day, and you’re trying to find a piece of paper, an article, or a client asset. So, you click at one client folder, then another, and then another. But you can’t find what you need. 

You ring your co-worker and ask them if they know where the item is located? They say they’ll check and revert.

You wait and wait and wait.

Only to hear that they couldn’t find it either.

This is a classic scenario of LOST BRAIN.

You end up wasting your time — asking everyone around you to figure out what you need because you don’t know where it is.

But the good news is, you can STOP that.

And, INSTEAD, you can just go into your organized folder structure and get what you want. Quickly!

Because you know precisely where it lives and where it should be at all times.

This thing/item/document that you might be looking for is the BRAIN of your business.

It could be:

  • Clients’ assets
  • Proposals
  • Scopes
  • Change orders
  • Content
  • Deliverables
  • Milestones
  • Meeting notes
  • Meeting agendas
  • Frameworks, and
  • Anything that you’re producing for the client

So, where does it live?

It could live in a file, a folder, in your drawer, or a cabinet that has piles of paperwork already.

Take your BRAIN out of the DIGITAL MESS.

And make sure everything in your business has its organization.

Why?

Because you don’t want to end up hunting people down for everything you need.

Imagine this: If an employee leaves and you hire someone else, how do you expect the new employee to ramp up? Can they seamlessly pick up from where the previous employee left off?

Not unless there is a folder structure. It’s the only thing that can help them easily replace the brain of the previous employee.

And what would be the results in that case? 

Quick delivery, fewer hassles.

Understanding where your brain lives will not only help you train people faster, it will help you make more money by delivering to clients more quickly.

Overall, your profitability will increase, and you’ll better navigate and grow your business.

DIGITIZE and ORGANIZE Your Brain

Once you know where your brain lives, it’s time to digitize and organize.

This is where a folder structure or a folder taxonomy comes and changes everything — for the better, of course.

Excellent delegation isn’t a myth.

You can make that happen. But how?

By having all your papers, documents, and files in specified places and organizing them into folder structures. So that the next time someone needs a document, they don’t have to make a hundred clicks to get to it.

A well-organized folder structure will save time and $$ for your business. And it will help you manage your business better. 

Give Your Business a Fulfilling Run. Ready, Set, Go!

Not knowing where your brain lives is a huge drain on your business productivity, sales, and profitability.

Understand where your brain lives, organize client folders, and save time and money.

While you are trying to find your brain, check this case study to learn how one of my clients doubled her sales, tripled her team in size, and decreased her expenses in less than one year. Oh, and guess what? You can do it too. Just ask ScaleTime how.

What is Folder Structure?

You’re working on an important deadline, when ding!, there comes a message from your colleague:

Hey, do you have that meeting note from last month’s meeting with that fussbudget client? He is asking for something that seems out of scope, and the boss wants us to dig in and check if his request is legit.”

Uh oh. That’s a message you wouldn’t want to see.

But you did. 

And, darn, there’s no escape.

Now, you’ll have to scroll through hundreds of folders and documents to find a simple record that you should’ve kept handy.

In fact, until now, it was handy. Or was it?

Well, this is why you need a folder structure.

Think of it as that binder you store all your physical documents in. It kills disorderliness and keeps everything organized on your systems.

It’s your solution to document clutter.

How To Build A Client Folder Taxonomy?

  1. Create a template — Have a standard folder structure template in place. When you know how to create a folder structure quickly, you’ll spend less time making it when you scale.
  2. Define the hierarchy — Don’t dump everything in folders. Focus on a logical progression and categorize the folders either by project, client, or department.
  3. Label them right — Hey, don’t rush when saving files in folders. Name everything descriptively (like client’s name or project name) to save time and frustration as you search later on.
  4. Create shortcuts –—While an efficient folder structure is your savior in most scenarios, you need shortcuts for the most commonly used folders and subfolders. But, don’t flood your system with shortcuts either. Go easy on them.
  5. Version and Iteration control — Create processes for storing and keeping track of versions and iterations of deliverables.

Why is Folder Structure Important?

Well, a good folder structure is crucial in various scenarios:

  • When you want to find an item without wasting your time
  • When you want to make your systems easier to manage and sustainable
  • When you want to reduce the digital mess
  • When you want to avoid the risk of people using the wrong document
  • When you want to have a structured approach to manage all the deliverables and documents and enable sensible search

So, there you have it, the ultimate guide on saving time with folder structures.

Master the Skill of Folder Structure

When it comes to managing client folders, you need a folder structure that makes document search easier and folder organization better.

Level up your folder structure skills by:

  • Creating a folder structure
  • Using templates
  • Maintaining a folder hierarchy
  • Labeling files, folders, and everything in between
  • Creating shortcuts
  • Implementing version/iteration control

Before you get busy with creating that perfect folder structure, download this free client onboarding guide and toolkit to optimize your client onboarding process.

If you have any tips to make the most of the folder structure, leave a comment below. And if you are facing any struggles or challenges with your folder structure, let us know.

Top 21 Client Interview Questions to Ask for Best Insights

Bill Gates once said, “Your most unhappy customers are your greatest source of learning.”

Wait, what?

Did he just say the most unhappy?

What about the others? The ones you write home about — the happiest ones.

Well, they add to your learning curve, too.

Provided you know what they’re actually thinking!

That’s why you’ve got some homework to do. You’ve got to know which questions to ask clients.

If you’ve been wracking your brain to find new ways to reach and connect with your target audience, interviewing your clients during the offboarding process can give you great ideas and insight.

But Juliana, how do you conduct an effective client success interview with the right questions that get clients to spill the beans?!

Well, I’m glad you asked. This is how we do it with these top 21 questions to ask clients.

 

Why conduct a client success interview anyway?

Your agency must understand the customer’s needs and expectations with your offerings. Otherwise, it’s like spelunking without a flashlight. Asking clients questions on the front and backend of a job well done gives your team the info they need to be successful.

But I don’t have time to sit and chat with every single customer and potential client!

That’s true. Asking every single client that comes through your digital door a battery of questions isn’t very scalable, is it?

But if you reach out to customers for a success interview at specific times in the buyer’s journey, your team can get much-needed insight into what clients are feeling and thinking when in the thick of the experience.

Customer feedback is actual, real data you can act on to further optimize and scale your business.

Asking clients the right questions at specific points in their journey will reveal new opportunities you can capitalize on. Answers to client interview questions can also uncover some not-so-good things happening with your brand that needs fixing.

Scheduling a Client Success Interview

The first step in the process is to schedule the initial client interview. I know, right? Who would have thunk it?

While this might seem like a no-brainer, there’s a right way and a wrong way to scheduling a client success interview.

Imitation is the highest form of flattery. Feel free to borrow our process and flatter us.

We reach out to interviewees a week or two in advance before the date we have in mind for the meeting. All we do is send a simple email asking their availability for a 25-minute (tops!) client interview.

Tips for wording your email:

  • Get straight to the point — Tell them precisely why you’re reaching out. Personalize it a bit, so it doesn’t come off as standard boilerplate or, worse — spam.
  • Be respectful of their time — Be upfront with how much time you’re asking for — 25 minutes max.
  • Thank them twice — Thank them for doing business with you (or considering it if they’re pre-buying) and for giving you some of their time for the interview.

Remember to always be genuine in the email, keep it short, and forgo any pushy language.

While it’s true that the answers you get from them will be a goldmine of data and help you further optimize your business, they’re really doing you a massive favor here.

During the client interview, I ask them a battery of pre-selected questions designed to elicit a detailed response that helps set us up for future success.

But let me disclose these are not my questions. These have been passed down from generation to generation of marketers like a fable, and the source has been washed by the sands of time.

So, before we jump to the questions, here are a couple of tips from the pros on questions to ask clients:

Pro Tip: These are time-tested questions that have helped me receive some of the best responses ever. Altering them isn’t recommended. At all.

SuperPro Tip: Keep asking “why” to get to the heart of the matter. Go ahead. Unleash your inner five-year-old!

These top 18 questions to ask clients are broken down into different categories, depending on where the client is in the buying process. 

So go right ahead and copy these. I promise to be flattered.

Potential Client Interview Questions to Ask

I don’t know what questions to ask clients because I don’t know if I can even help their business yet!

If you’re not sure if you can actually help improve their business, ask your potential clients these critical questions to understand their goals, expectations, plans, and objectives.

Set yourself up for success during the onboarding process!

  1. Before we started working together, what were you trying to do? What were the challenges you had? What were you trying to accomplish? Why? What were you frustrated by? What problems did we help you solve in your business? Why?
  2. What did you want? How do we improve your business? Why? They need your help and are here because they would like to work with you. Try to understand their business ideas and vision so that you can help them better.
  3. What are your expectations? Keep track of client’s expectations. As scope and expectations change, so should the contract?
  4.  What was your fear? What were you concerned about? What was your fear if you didn’t get what you wanted?
  5.  How did the other people involved in the decision all feel about this? What did they want? What were they frustrated by? What did they fear?
  6. What is your overall budget and projected starting date of the project? Knowing both pieces of information allows you to develop an accurate estimate that matches not just on price but also helps you accurately prioritize projects.
  7. What are your expectations on having good customer service?

Pro-tip:

Don’t over-commit just to win the client’s business.

Quality matters, and not every client is the right one for you. Have some self-respect and quit chasing all the dollars!

Questions to ask potential clients: Understanding the pre-buying process

Use these questions for understanding where your potential client is currently in the pre-buying process and if you can meet them there. These questions are beneficial when conducting a sales call.

Prospective client questions to ask during the pre-buying process:

  1.  What was most important to you when you were making a decision?
  2.  What factors didn’t matter as much?
  3.  Who was involved in the decision-making process? Who made the final decision or signed the contract? What was their title? It’s critical to figure out if you’re speaking to and dealing with the right decision-makers and understand the entire process for a business or project.
  4.  Who else did you look at? What other companies did you talk to? What other ways did you look at solving this problem?
  5.  Why did you decide to go with us versus other companies or alternatives?

There are two vital answers you need before you agree to work with a potential client:

  • Is there an actual need for your offering?
  • If so, is this person a good fit for your business?

You need both if you want to forge a long-term business relationship with the client and get referrals.

Client Questions to Ask for Understanding the After-Sale Process

When you clinch the sale, asking clients questions about why they chose your specific company and why they like your brand can give your marketing team a lot of valuable insight.

Ask these questions after the sale:

  1. What do you like about us?
  2. How could we improve? Any feedback?
  3. If you were to describe what we do to another company, what would you say?
  4. Is there anything else you want to add or how we can be helpful?
  5. Based on what you know about us, can you think of anyone else whom it might make sense for me to talk to?

To make the process simpler, I open a Google doc on my screen before I start the client interview and copy and paste the questions listed above.

I take as many notes as I can to fully capture the feeling the customer has for my brand.

Offboarding client interview questions and critical insights

Scheduling an exit interview with your clients helps get the much-needed brand clarity to drive more customers to your offerings.

An exit interview also gives you the perfect opportunity to uncover any gaps in your processes and where you can improve your offerings.

Conducting an offboarding client success interview also enables you to figure out what your target audience genuinely wants — not what the industry says they do.

So, if you’re keen on capitalizing on consumer decisions and behavioral studies, begin the charity at home by interviewing your clients during the offboarding process.

  1. Schedule your exit interview. Use the question “why” to dig for those nuggets of insight.
  2. Ask questions that uncover your client’s pre-buying processes, like why they chose your company over a competitor and who was the ultimate decision-maker.
  3. Uncover your client’s after-sale thoughts. Find out what they enjoyed about working with your company and what they didn’t.
  4. Use the end of the interview as an opportunity to ask for referrals.

Oh, and always remember to thank them before starting the client interviews and again while wrapping up.

After all, they’re doing you a favor.

So, be sure to treat it like one.

Questions to ask clients: Be proactive and take action

You won’t know if you don’t ask.

Conduct a client interview during specific points in the buyer’s journey to get valuable insight into where your customer’s heads are at.

  • Send a short and sweet email that gets straight to the point.
  • Remember to thank the client in the email, during, and after the interview.
  • Keep the interviews short (15 to 25 minutes) and respect the client’s time.
  • Simplify the process. Pick your questions beforehand and have a Google doc open during the interview.

Bottom line? It’s on you to find out precisely what your client needs, how you can serve them, and why they’ve chosen you over a competitor.

Asking clients the right questions during specific points in the customer journey will help you optimize your business for growth.

Are you falling through the cracks and gaps in your client process? That’s a bummer. There’s a better way to live.

Schedule a free session with us today, and let’s talk about how we can fill in those gaps and get your agency running smoothly!

 

How to Find the Cracks in Your Client Process

CLIENT (internal dialogue): OMG they think I’m crazy. I just want it how I want it. Aaaaand it WILL most likely happen again! Oooops. 

YOU (internal dialogue): You are insane. I’m going nuts. I might kill you — but I won’t … because I need to pay overhead.

Take a mind reading microscope to the typical scenario of dealing with a tough client, and it looks something like the above exchange. 

If you’ve been in business for quite some time now, chances are you’ve met at least one such wacky client. 

They can be are demanding.

They can be are usually unclear with their requirements.

Or, they can be terrible for no reason.

You know the drill, right?

But when a client gives you a hard time, and there’s no silver lining whatsoever, what can you do to protect your sanity while getting the job done? 

You’ll want to identify the cracks in your client process. 

How? 

By improving your client onboarding process and tightening up the scope of your projects. 

Identify Cracks in the Client Process

Here are five ways you can find the cracks in your client process and improve your client onboarding and scope creation.

1. You’re behind schedule because of the client.

You have a lovely client. It’s a pleasure to deal with them. The only problem is the project delays. In fact, there are a lot of them. Why? Well, because of the client.

Sound unusual?

Trust me, it happens so much we call it “client dragging a$$ syndrome.”

Many of my customers ask, “Juliana, what can I do if I fall behind schedule thanks to client-induced delays?”

I suggest two solutions in this scenario:

  • Add a buffer to each project’s deadline
  • Charge a margin fee for any project extensions past the agreed-upon deadline 

2. Scope of work? What’s that?

You may have mapped out an SOW that’s a thing of beauty. 

But what if your client doesn’t understand it? 

Or, even worse, doesn’t follow it on purpose — thanks to the whole “customer-is-the-king” song playing in their head all the time.

Instead of giving in to their “special” requests as “extras” and working beyond the scope for free, be upfront. Set clear boundaries, and avoid that grumble later on.

3. It’s urgent! It always is!

Well, here comes the most dreaded of them all — the one who is always running on tight timelines and wants quick results. Make sure your onboarding process is competent enough to filter out leads that want you to work on ridiculously short time frames. 

It’s no good. 

Being on a client’s beck and call constantly never is.

4. Hey client, “You’ve got an email!”

There are clients who are too occupied to check their emails and messages. 

And there are clients who just don’t bother to revert. 

Either way, it’s annoying to work with a bad communicator.

Whether you need feedback or sign off, reduce the frequency of contact to weekly check-ins, and use online tools like Slack and Asana, if possible.

 5.  Too many junior cooks in the kitchen.

Too many people working on a project? 

Result? 

Chaos and confusion abound! 

Goalposts change, quality decreases, and more time is spent organizing and sorting things out than on actual work.

While you can’t remove stakeholders from a project, crowdsourcing can allow them to be heard. 

Having a single point of contact for collecting and disseminating information can also prevent your project from becoming a fine kettle of fish.

Also, try automating the process. 

Assigning a single-point-of-contact and setting up automations can help everyone involved in the project. It’s a major step toward better collaboration. You can trust me on this (and on all of the other points too, btw). 

That’s the problem with a client process. 

You commit too much, you look needy. 

Not enough, you seem too laid back.

Clients commit too much, they’re lovely. 

Not enough, they’re busy.

Why, oh why, this discrimination?

Set clear expectations before you sign a contract. 

And create an unbiased onboarding client process that’ll help you identify red-flags while dealing with a potential overly-demanding client.

If, still, you happen to encounter a difficult-to-please customer, try one of the methods listed-above before giving up on them.

🤺Find, Fill and bulletproof the cracks in your process: 

  1. Set clear boundaries upfront about scope, and add buffers to the project deadlines
  2. Include margin fees for Client-Dragging-A$$ syndrome
  3. Filter out leads who want to work on crazy timelines
  4. Assign a single-point-of-contact
  5. Use automations

It may not be easy. But it’s worth it. 

 

How to Deal with Client Demands that Mess Up Your Workflow: Our Top 4 Tips

Your clients are the reason your project management is flowing. Learning how to deal with a difficult client is a key facet to scaling your agency. 

You were doing the happy dance after landing that new client. Woot woot.
They sure did look like a human when you met them and signed the paperwork. But you’re starting to think they’re actually a bunch of angry bees walking around in a skinsuit, masquerading as a human.
What the hell went wrong?
It’s been a couple of weeks and the emails, the texts, the voicemails, and questions at ungodly hours just keep pouring in. You’re starting to wonder if the cash is worth all the time and energy this difficult client is sucking out of you.
Sound familiar?
Here’s the thing, y’all. As your business grows, you will come across PITA clients. It’s a fact of business life.

But ScaleTime, I’m only going to ever work with amazing clients that I love and who love me! 

That’s the dream you’ve got to be asleep to always achieve. It’s not like a difficult, PITA (pain in the a$) client walks around with a flashing neon Look out, I’m difficult! sign attached to their forehead.
You can’t run away and you can’t hide. You’ve got to learn how to handle tough clients. It’s essential to running a profitable business. Difficult clients’ cash is still legal tender and you don’t want to leave money on the table.

But ScaleTime, I’m going batshit! How do I deal with all these ridiculous client demands that leave me frustrated and annoyed?

Oh we sympathize. Believe me, we do. But there’s a way to deal with difficult clients and their crazy client demands that don’t involve a rope and shovel.
Have you ever thought that your time isn’t being sucked dry by your engagement with a demanding client, but actually by your onboarding?
You can’t fix people. But you can fix your processes so you can scale your agency without investing in TUMS from demanding client stress.
Here’s how.

^ you after dealing with a challenging client
>>> Click here to download the easy Onboarding Checklist if you know you have issues with crazy client requests.
Get comfy and refill that coffee mug. It’s story time.

Breaking out of the “request” trap from a demanding client

Armando is a client of mine who does digital marketing. He came to me because he felt like he was at capacity.
This was the sitch:
He had no weekends and no time for his partner. His treadmill was collecting dust. A new friend was hinting at making an appearance — the dreaded muffin top.
Every day, Armando crossed his fingers that a certain challenging client didn’t call him. Amando just didn’t have the time, energy, or the patience to even deal.

His saying was, “If they aren’t calling me, that means everything is great.”

What made his client so difficult? They were constantly asking him to make changes and do reporting he was never paid to do and that wasn’t in the SOW.
I see you there nodding your head. It’s a common issue for agency owners when dealing with challenging clients.
So, we took a look at his client engagements to assess what was affecting his ability to produce results and hop back on the treadmill.

And the discoveries were surprising. For him. We had a good inkling at what the real problem was (and it wasn’t all on the demanding client). 

We realized that many of his client issues had very little to do with capacity and almost everything to do with — you guess it — onboarding.
When it comes to dealing with tough clients, onboarding is usually what gets the ball rolling on down to funky-crazy town. Armando’s onboarding process was no different.
His onboarding process didn’t establish boundaries or reasonable expectations. Onboarding had also failed to determine what the clients’ digital marketing starting point was in the first place.
Ruh roh, Shaggy. This lack of a robust onboarding process made the client insecure and only fed into their unreasonable demands.
Here’s what we told Armando:

Your clients are trying to board a plane to an amazing destination. But if you want to take on a great volume of clients, you are going to have to go TSA on their ass and make sure they know the rules before boarding.

I just love the TSA strip search! 
Said no one. Ever. Well unless you’re into that kink. We don’t kink-shame here.
But really, I think it’s safe to say we all hate the TSA strip search, the 100ml bottle restrictions, no shoes, no sweater, taking out your laptop — we hate it, BUT we comply anyway.
There’s a process — if you travel you are made aware and get conditioned to it. There is simply no wiggle room. The process has become an expectation to get from Point A to Point B so you can go on a happy journey.
. . . mind, get it out of the gutter dear reader 😜

The same needs to happen with your service business so you can wrangle demanding clients and keep them on a tight leash. Do this, and plenty of people will happily board for your destination. 

This was the ScaleTime Solution for Armando and how to deal with challenging clients:

  • We set up Armando’s onboarding process
  • Created an actionable workflow in his project manager
  • Saved 20 hours a month
  • Increased his revenue by 45% over the following three months

And the best part? Armando had his whole process documented into a replicable system that anyone could access.
Naturally, he delegated the process, hiring a client success manager to take care of onboarding.
Whhhhhaaat!? Yeah, how relieving that is to read as a business owner. 

No more demanding clients. You can fast-track your agency to get the same results as our friend Armando.

>>> Click here to download my Client Onboarding Checklist if you want to see what we used for Armando’s onboarding.

Establishing ground rules with all clients, not just the demanding ones,  is going to create the biggest 80/20 impact for your onboarding. 

Think about:

  • When do you want them to reach you?
  • What’s the rule for scheduling — i.e. 48 hours, 24? (And is there a consequence to this?)
  • How many points of contact will there be for you?
  • Which team members are you engaging with?
  • If you have a tangible deliverable:
  • How many edits or iterations are you allowing in the scope of work before there is a change order?

Disclaimer: Don’t tell your bad clients about how they are hijacking your session or project!
Your clients are the lifeblood of your business. But, more often than you want, they will get on your nerves. That’s just part and parcel to working with people.
Clients will demand things that are out of the contract, unreasonable, or simply out of this world!
Thankfully, you don’t have to lose your sanity to keep your difficult clients. You don’t have to do all of their requests either.
I’ll say it again for all you peeps in the back:
YOU DON’T HAVE TO DO ALL OF THEIR REQUESTS EITHER.
In the end, the client will thank you for not giving in to their crazy requests.

Here’s another demanding client request story and how to deal. I suggest not refilling your coffee because you will just spit it out when you see the results. 

Check out this design disaster that happened to a Japanese noodle company when the designer said yes to all of the client’s demands.
This was the designer’s first draft.

Not too bad. Looks like a pretty normal advert.
But nooooo. Normal was simply not good enough for crazy client Charlie.
Apparently, the client pretended to be an expert in design so more demands were made.

Okay. That’s pretty nuts.
Nooooo. Pretty nuts wasn’t good enough either! The demands went out of control.

And now, for the final product after all the demands were made!

Kids, this is your brain on Say yes to every client demand. 
This is how your project will turn out if you say yes to the client all the damn time even if they’re completely cracked.

How do you get through chaotic client requests from the demand regime?

You can get through these chaotic client requests and unrealistic expectations with win-win solutions through effective project management. Promise.
Your deliverables will look like they came from Planet Earth instead of through the looking glass. And your clients will love them too, no matter how demanding they can be.
Here are some tips to keep you sane while addressing your beloved, but not always so likable, difficult clients.

1. Use your tech stack to set yourself up for success with tough clients

Make sure your ship is in tip-top shape before the storm hits! Do I hear an aye aye captain? You’re setting yourself up for a disaster if your company is already in chaos before more craziness comes in.
If you have all your systems in place, it’ll be easier to regain composure no matter how crazy the demand of your client will be.
You have two things to set up: the system and the person.
Your system is like a conveyor belt. Every step ensures that a perfect product will come out.
The person you assign will serve as the account manager.
Remember, keeping your clients happy is important so choose someone who can be calm (or pretend to be) even during surprise requests from bad clients. This person has to be poised, patient, and reliable because every request, no matter how nuts, will be sent to them.

2. Categorize the request

You have to clarify if the request makes sense. Because, sometimes, we don’t know what kind of sorcery comes into clients’ minds that compels them to make insane demands.
Just look at the advertisement for the cup noodles above. Look at it! Promise to never do crazy client request drugs.
Yes, it takes a bit of extra effort to categorize requests. But it’s worth it in the long run so you don’t end up with an acid trip of a deliverable.
Next, if you have decided that the request makes sense, ensure it’s part of your scope.
This is one of the reasons why project managers lose profit. They end up doing stuff that they aren’t supposed to be doing in the first place!
If the request is not in your contract, you have to decide if you want to do it just because you want to impress your client. If not, talk to your client to modify the scope and adjust the budget accordingly.

3. Watch your timeline

Be realistic about your team’s capacity. Don’t forget that you only have 24 hours in a day. And those hours aren’t made for work alone.
Come down off the cross. There’s a lumber shortage and we need the wood. You, your teammates, and your employees aren’t superheroes or martyrs.
Be forthcoming in telling your client if tight deadlines are unrealistic. Most deadlines are flexible. So don’t be afraid to negotiate. You’re not a time wizard, you know.
Sure your client might want that rush job or extended labor they don’t even have to pay for. But we all get how frustrating it can be when clients expect us to complete an impossible amount of quality work in the space of a day, or even mere hours.

4. Be honest and lay off the sugarcoating

No need for sugar coating here. You’ve already gained your client, so stop the sweet talk. What you need to deal with a tough client is honest, straightforward, effective communication so you can help your client reach their goals.
Some of the client’s requests may not be helping them to reach their goals.
Whatever their reason is for making outlandish wishes, it’s your job to make them see the bigger picture. Insist on what you know. They hired you for your expertise because you know better.
So hold your ground. They’ll thank you for it in the end.

How to deal with a demanding client: The customer is not always right

The customer is always right!
Uh no. No they’re not. Just let this axiom go and realize that clients are not always right and sometimes their demands are downright ludicrous. And it’s okay to say no to them.
But you’ve got to set boundaries early and establish your agency TSA.

  • Watch your timelines
  • Always communicate honestly
  • Categorize the requests
  • Use your tech stack

Clients are not always right. If they are, they wouldn’t need your help!
Be kind but firm when a bad client tries to mess with your project management workflow. Your client is not trying to make you crazy. They may just be misguided or overwhelmed.
Remember, you both want the same thing — a successful project
So work together to make it happen.
Another reason you shouldn’t say yes to the request is that it might not be within the project scope.
If you let one demanding client get away with it, word gets around. Your other prospective clients may expect similar special treatment that you’re giving to the demanding client.
The next time you have to deal with a difficult client making an out-of-this-world request, remember your action steps!

Most of you know what’s good for you and your business and will take action.

Remember these key tips and tricks for handling those PITA clients:

  • The customer is not always right. Reverse engineering your boundaries never goes well, so be sure to set expectations upfront.
  • You’ve got your marketing tools. Use them! Your tech stack should automate certain processes for you that’ll cut down on those wacky, last-minute requests.
  • Categorize requests so you stay within scope and on-budget.
  • Watch your timelines. Rush jobs and last-minute changes require extra payment (and reasonable deadlines) for your efforts.
  • Be honest and tell your client like it is. Like it really is. Needlessly sugarcoating things can derail their projects and prevent both of you from reaching your goals.

Follow these steps, and PITA clients won’t take over your life or crimp your style anymore.
But for those of you who’d love some ideas that are more specific to your particular business, I’m super happy to hop on a quick call to chat about what you need to have a headache-free client relationship!
I take the first three inquiries every week, so click here to schedule space now. They’re going fast and you’re getting low on Imitrex.

The Ultimate Hack for Improving Client Engagement

Luuuucy… You have some splainin’ to do!!! (Did I just age myself with this reference?)

I’m about to hop on a call with a client that may or may not have done their work for the meeting (ahem).

I ask myself: “Where are they in their business? And what’s on the schedule for today?”

But first, let’s rewind a few months.

I used to track my client engagement on a spreadsheet that I called Actions2Scale (fancy right?) in google drive. It had all the components I needed:

  • Meeting dates
  • What was accomplished during each meeting
  • What the deliverables were
  • Any notes my client or I had

The problem was that as a consultant, there are a lot of tangible worksheets and documents that my clients and I share, and since my average client is with me for about 7 months, this spreadsheet inevitably grew long, confusing and not easily searchable. Not only that, but with the mish-mosh of documents in google drive – we could never find anything quickly!

Since most of my clients are visual thinkers, I thought I would give Trello a shot. And boy am I happy I did! Here’s what it looks like:

ScaleTime Roadmap Trello

1. Creating a Visual Roadmap

The first thing I do with my clients now is create a roadmap with all the modules of our engagement on the first few lists.

Keep in mind that pre-Trello, there was no visual roadmap for the client to know where we were going. No matter how much I listed out the milestones and talked about the direction of the engagement and what we were going to do next, there was NO VISUAL REMINDER.

It was like being on a road trip with my client, who kept innocently asking “are we there yet?” every 5 minutes.

In their defense though, it wasn’t their fault!

The problem was they didn’t know what had already been done, and what was still left to do. For the productivity geeks out there – I implemented some kanban-esque methodology. Fortunately, in Trello when we are done with a topic I can change the color (nifty right?). Take a look:

ScaleTime Trello Program

2. Forget About Client Amnesia

Client amnesia is a common condition in which the client can’t seem to remember the amazing work we’ve done together.

Symptoms include saying things like “I love this system – it literally takes me 2 minutes to do a proposal. Oh, was it you that helped me implement this?”

This used to raise my blood pressure and frustrate me to no end. Now, I just point them to the Trello board as I gleefully put my feet on my desk. After all, it’s a great way to show a historical record of everything that was accomplished. All without saying a single word. Not bad if you ask me!

3. When Clients “Hijack”

This doesn’t happen as much in my practice anymore (thank the lord!), but in the past I had clients take over the session with “emergencies” or what they thought were urgent questions. In other words, “Drop everything and help me now!”

Ever since I started using Trello however, clients can see for themselves when a task moves from this month to next month for example. Suddenly the urge to hijack a session is trumped by the urge to complete what they started.

Tweet this: A client’s urge to hijack a session is trumped by the urge to complete what they started.

It’s a beautiful thing, really. The psychology of wanting to see the white cards turn blue ( labeled complete) and knowing that this particular urgency will be covered in a systematic way puts a cease and desist on wasting time. (Can I get an amen!?)

4. Say Goodbye to Inbox Flooding

With Trello, there is simply no flooding of inboxes with back and forth updates, deliverables, homework, pre-work, or any kind of work really. It’s all in a nice checklist where clients can reference their tasks whenever they want, from anywhere in the world.

I’ve actually had clients text me in their PJ’s just to tell me how much they enjoyed checking a few items from their list.

Do NOT underestimate the need to complete things!

5. Delegating Tasks Has Never Been Easier

My clients can now share their board with their staff to strategize or delegate the work, and make sure everyone is on the same page.

Nuff said.

6. Get Organized!

Out of all the benefits, one of my favorites is never hearing this question: “Where is that document again?”

Whether your documents are located in dropbox, a company server, or google docs, you can link to them inside the topics in Trello. Everything has context and searchability.

Yeah baby!

To sum up, here are all the benefits of using a project management tool to manage your client engagement:

  • Clients have a visual roadmap
  • Client Amnesia cured
  • No more session hijacking
  • Inbox flooding eliminated
  • Easy to delegate tasks to team members
  • Great way to organize documents

So let me ask you… How are YOU tracking your client engagement, and giving your clients direction in the process?

I recommend Trello (obviously), but I’m also open to learning about other options that would incorporate some or all of the concepts I discussed in this article.

I would love to hear from you either way!