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My clients were jerks

Tell me if this story sounds familiar…

It’s 11:45 pm and my wife went to bed an hour ago.  I’m sitting on the couch, hunched over my laptop, working to deliver a client’s project for a demo tomorrow.  Five hours ago when I started, I reassured my wife “We’re really close.  Just a few tweaks from the client before I show them tomorrow.”

As I read through the client’s “tweaks,” my heart sank.  Half of it was out of scope, or so small it shouldn’t matter.  The other half was stupid opinions about button color, the lack of “pop” on the landing page, or suggestions for an alternate sign-up experience from a start-up they’d seen somewhere.

Of course, they were behind on their payments.  In fact, they’d given me the “check’s in the mail” line twice, until the latest variation: “We’ll send it as soon as these last changes are made.”    Earlier that day my designer, Sarah, had come into my office on the verge of tears because this client had been rude to her in a design review.  Phrases like “my five-year old could do better” and “I expected more from someone who’s a real professional.”  Calming her down, I reassured her that this client was just a jerk, and we’d be done with him soon enough.

To be honest, we’d had a run of bad clients lately, but I was sure our luck would change.  We just needed to weather this storm, and we’d get the company back on track.  I reassured Sarah she was doing great, and to just make the changes they wanted so we could finish.

She protested, reminding me that “The client isn’t the expert, we are.”  I smiled and told her the client pays the bills, so if they want it pink with green stripes, that’s what we would build.  After all, we had to please them to get paid.  She frowned, paused, and left silently.

Crud, it’s 12:17, and I’m not done.  Grabbing a Red Bull, I headed back to the couch to finish up.  Or get as much done as possible.
By 1:05 I was climbing back into bed.  My last thought for the day: “All clients are jerks.  But I guess that’s the why I get paid the big bucks.  NOT!

What’s the worst client experience you’ve had?

About Marcus Blankenship

Where other technical coaches focus on process or tools, I focus on the human aspects of your Programmer to Manager transition. I help you hire the right people, create the right culture, and setup the right process which achieves your goals. Managing your team isn't something you learned in college. In fact, my clients often tell me "I never prepared for this role, I always focused on doing the work". If you're ready to improve your leadership, process and team, find out how I can help you.

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