Navigating Client Personality Types

By Caroline Molloy • October 10, 2013

I have had the opportunity to work with a variety of clients since I have started here at Verbal+Visual, and in doing so I have experienced a number of different personalities. When I sit down to think about all of my past client experiences I tend to notice some patterns emerge in terms of these personality types. After reading a number of blog posts and articles related to this topic, I have found that there seems to be certain personality types observed over and over again in this industry. Here are 5 of those client personality types I have observed:

1. The lost puppy

This client often times has an overall vision, but other than that very little idea on how to execute that vision.

Pros

A client that does not know what they are looking for allows those working on the project to get creative. Often times out of this creativity comes an exceptional product that the client never even dreamed of!

Cons

With a client like this you sometimes get the “I don’t know what I want, but I know I don’t want that” line. These types tend to not provide concrete feedback, which can lead to a project that feels like it is going in circles.

 

2. The “more is more” believer

This client thinks that there is no such thing as too much. They want to include all functionality and design elements they may have liked from other sites without thinking about the overall usability of the site. Steering this client to see the bigger picture and think about the why behind each of their requests is very important.

Pros

This client will not be afraid to try adding a new or cutting edge design / functionality piece to their project that a more conservative client may be wary of.

Cons 

They tend to not understand the importance of UX and honing in on the overall objectives of the site to make strategic decisions. If they see it on another site they expect that it can and should be included on their own.

 

3. The nitpicker

This client has a very distinct vision and every aspect of that vision needs to be done exactly to their specifications.

Pros

Doing exactly what someone asks for can be great if what they are asking for is really what is best for their business. If it is, it makes our job easy as we simply need to execute.

Cons

Perfectionists dwell on the smallest of details that really will not effect the overall outcome of a project. This can impede on the timeline, as a task that should only take 1 day can take multiple as the client fusses over every little aspect.

 

4. The always URGENT client

Clients who start every email with URGENT in the subject line tend to over-exaggerate problems, which can lead to a lot of worry for no reason. Recognizing this trait early on in a project will help to ease your nerves as you work with these clients.

Pros

These types are attentive and timely in communicating, as they are always wary that something will go wrong.

Cons

Countless times I have been panicked when I see the subject of an email from these clients, only to find that when I open the email it really is a non-issue. More often then not these clients expect you to drop everything to assist them with every little question or minor concern they may have – even when those issues are not time sensitive.

 

5. The perfect client

Believe what you want but this does exist! This does not technically mean that this client can do no wrong, but in reality the perfect client is one that is willing to both share ideas and listen when it comes to their project. This personality type is willing to engage in the process without limiting the creativity and excitement that comes with creating something new.

Each client has unique needs and it is important to establish a relationship during the first few calls or meetings you may have with a client to feel out what personality type you are dealing with. Understanding the person you are working with will help you establish a wonderful working relationship. Trying to navigate different personalities can be a challenge, but it is also what makes a Project Manager’s job so exciting.

 

Caroline Molloy

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