The Cross Client Quadrant - which do you recognise? | DMA

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The Cross Client Quadrant - which do you recognise?


The sales people do their bit and over the wall comes a shiny new client full of expectations.

You’ve attended the chemistry / pitch sessions, you’ve read the proposal and you are deep into the project set up. Where though is the document that tells you what kind of client you are dealing with when things go wrong – did they not fill out a psychometric test for you?!

Following processes which get you to a partnership quickly is vital. But, what about when there are bumps in the road?

I think I could do a few hours stand up re-telling some of the horror stories of angry clients over the years. “But clients are just people” I hear you cry. Wrong! Clients are people with their own career and their companies’ objectives sitting squarely over their shoulders.

They are so dependent on you doing your job to make their lives easier or better the tension when it goes wrong can be unbearable.

Thinking through the times when I’ve had to console sobbing Account Managers or confront a fire breathing client I've created a cross client categorisation quadrant:

When you are in the thick of a problem with a client its no laughing matter though. And, however robust your processes, over the course of a long contract things will not always go according to plan.

The client’s response to these problems is their prerogative. And the quadrant they fit into reflects their individual personality, the culture of the company they work in and the importance of the service you are delivering. The fact is, unless they are masochistic, they don’t want to be acting in a negative way.

There are many tool available to help manage clients when they are mad but all variations involve listening, understanding and communicating.

Clients aren’t always right but they do pay your wages so getting things back on track as quickly as possible is in everyone’s best interest. With an estimate that 90% of conflict comes from misaligned expectations my painful experiences have taught me to make sure there is absolute clarity of requirements from the start.

As well as this practical robustness I recommend that when hiring client relationship managers evidence of skills like resilience, empathy and assertiveness make sure bubbling problems are being spotted and managed before the client moves into the cross quadrant.

...if all else fails then a few glasses of wine help.

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