Perfectionist clients are more challenging to deal with than most. They expect the best from you at all times and will nitpick on even the smallest details.
It is hard for a freelancer or consultant who works remotely to manage such clients, but it is not impossible. Here are some ways you can deal with perfectionist clients effectively.
Working with a perfectionist client sounds like a nightmare, doesn’t it? After all, nobody wants to work with someone who can never be happy with anything that you do for them.
However, as challenging as working with such a client might seem, there are also upsides to this scenario. If you manage your relationship well and keep things professional, then you could end up getting lots of referrals from this client in future.
Keep reading to learn more about working with a perfectionist client without going crazy in the process!
Build A Good Relationship
Before you can even think about dealing with perfectionist clients, you need to establish a good relationship with them. Working with a perfectionist client is not inherently harder than working with a non-perfectionist one. What makes the difference is your approach and how you manage the relationship.
How can you build a good relationship with a perfectionist client? Start by asking them lots of questions. Ask them about their business and what they hope to achieve with it.
Show that you care and that you’re genuinely interested in them as a person, not just as a client. This will help you form a bond with them and start them off on the right foot.
Repeat And Summarize Instructions
One cause of frustration for perfectionist clients is that they are too wordy in their instructions. They will try to explain everything in excruciating detail, but they often forget that not everyone is as meticulous as they are and won’t understand their instructions.
You can avoid this problem by summarizing what your client has told you, either out loud or in writing. For example, if your client wants you to design a website for their new online store, they might say something like, “I want a modern website that’s clean, easy to navigate, and has a pop-up for my latest deals!”
If you just repeat what they’ve told you back to them (“So you want a modern website that’s clean, easy to navigate, and has a pop-up for your latest deals”) they’ll know that you’ve understood their instructions, and you’ll be able to move on to the next step without any problems.
Taking notes is crucial when working with perfectionist clients. If you don’t write down their feedback, details about the project, deadlines, etc. then you’re likely to forget important information.
This could lead to a situation where you’ve done everything correctly and are still “fired” because you didn’t meet one of the client’s nitpicky expectations.
Taking notes can be as simple as typing everything out on a piece of paper or appending information to an email thread. You can use different colors to organize the different aspects of the project and create a visual representation of all the information you have.
Provide Positive Reinforcement
One thing that perfectionists often lack is self-confidence. They don’t think as highly of their own abilities as they should and might doubt their choice to hire you.
This can negatively affect the relationship between you and your client. You’re both likely to feel frustrated with each other and the project won’t get done as quickly or efficiently as it should.
To prevent this from happening, give your client lots of positive reinforcement. Let them know that you’re proud to be working with them and that they are doing a great job.
Let your client know that their choices have been excellent and that you’re grateful to be working with them. This will boost your client’s self-confidence and make them more likely to trust you and your skills.
Appreciate The positives While Recognizing The Negatives
It might sound contradictory to appreciate the positives while also recognizing the negatives, but it’s actually a very healthy thing to do.
Let’s say your client asks you to design two variations of a new website for them. You do a fantastic job with both designs and they love them, but they’re nothing short of nitpicky when it comes to the tiniest details.
Now, you can either choose to ignore this or you can bring it up in a constructive way. You might say something like, “You’ve been very thorough with your feedback so far, but there have been a few things that have stood out as nitpicky.
I’m happy to go back and tweak the design if you’d like me to, but I just wanted to let you know that it’s natural for a designer to want to make tiny adjustments to their work once it’s finished. Every designer does this! You don’t need to nitpick!”
This might sound a little weird, but it’s crucial that you become more self-aware as a freelancer or consultant who works remotely with perfectionist clients.
When you’re working for a client remotely, it can be easy for you to let your ego get out of control. You need to remember that you’re not the client and you don’t know what they really want or need.
This is where self-awareness comes in. You need to make sure that you’re not getting caught up in some kind of perfectionism of your own and doing tasks the wrong way just because your client is being picky and difficult. You need to make sure that you’re always being efficient and productive and taking the right path.
Improve Your Communication Skills
Communication is key when working with perfectionist clients. You might think that you’ve done a spectacular job on a project or task and want to send it to your client, only to be told that it’s not quite perfect enough.
This can be frustrating and leave you questioning how to proceed. The best way to deal with these situations is to improve your communication skills.
This means communicating with your client as clearly, concisely, and effectively as possible. Make sure to check in with your client about their preferences, expectations, and level of detail to make sure that you’re both on the same page.
Be Careful With Feedback
While it’s important to communicate with your client, you also need to make sure that you don’t give your client any feedback unless they ask you to.
If your client asks you to provide them with feedback on their business model or a new product they’re launching, then it’s fine to do so. However, you don’t want to go overboard with it and annoy your client.
If you notice that your client is asking you to provide feedback on everything, then you might want to have a conversation with them and let them know that you can’t provide feedback on everything and that you have a limited amount of time to work on their project.
Give Consistent Updates
This is another way to improve your communication with a perfectionist client. Instead of waiting for your client to ask you how things are going, simply give them regular updates on the project or tasks that you’re working on for them.
You don’t have to write long paragraphs, simply let them know what you’ve been working on, what’s next on your to-do list, and what their expectations for the project are.
This will show your client that you’re organized and that you’re paying attention to the project. It will also give you a sense of accomplishment as you tick off tasks and see your project moving forward.
Working with a perfectionist client can be challenging, but it doesn’t have to be impossible. The best way to deal with a perfectionist client is to establish a positive relationship with them.
Communicate with them clearly and often, provide them with consistent updates on your progress, and become more self-aware so that you don’t unintentionally annoy them with your feedback.