A short but powerful glossary of client mismanagement
What started as a question on LinkedIn turned into a powerful list of poor client service we still hear about today. We went through the responses and comments and grouped a selection into categories from the Project Management point of view, but the list applies to all kinds of people management.
The additional filter applied here is that the blog post was written by a project manager with a diverse background in people management in, hold your breath — the film industry. Tough client list for sure, which is why her take on this list is precious and worth your time.
My father always said: “No one is smart enough to learn from other people’s mistakes.” I happen to believe that but still, against my better judgment, I will try to bestow upon you a few pearls of wisdom on how to screw up so epically, they will never let you answer a Facebook post, let alone a client’s email.
A group of enthusiastic PM professionals gathered around the LN post I made, and we came up with 5 key strategies on how to ensure you never land a job as a PM.
- “Playing dead” strategy.
- When clients ask why you are late with delivery, ignore their questions.
- If they call you to ask why you are late with the delivery, do not pick up your phone.
- If they ask for a brief call, tell them you are fully booked and don’t have slots available, but they can write you an email, and you will answer them asap. Ignore that email.
- Do not respond to angry emails.
We plan — God laughs. There is so much that can go wrong during production, which can jeopardize deadlines, and it is never a good idea to keep your clients or stakeholders in the dark.
2 . “Confuse them to oblivion” strategy.
- If you have their mobile contact, always send the answers they need on Viber/Whatsapp, not via email (be as inconsistent as possible, use all communication channels to your convenience and have them work for the information. This will buy you time, if nothing else.)
- Send them too many emails.
- Send them incorrect emails (something random meant for another coworker — and then email them with “PLEASE IGNORE THE EMAIL BELOW) — do this multiple times.
The easiest way to always have concrete and latest information is to have one channel of communication. It can be one mail thread, it can be regular meetings, or even a slack channel. However, when we decide to spice it up and mix and match it to our own convenience, that is where information goes to die.
3. Be more than fashionably late.
- Be late for meetings. Always. In addition, have random and nonsensical excuses generated and ready to trigger your personal oversharing. Nothing creates discomfort better than getting too private with things that have nothing to do with the project.
- Be late with delivery.
We already covered lateness, but let us expand it to personal work habits. You wouldn’t wanna be stood up for a date; this is of equal importance to the project.
4. Deliver poor quality after being more than fashionably late and make them pay extra.
- If they ask to get, for example, ProRes in addition to the requested format, tell them that will add to the cost.
- To increase the service or product price after you’d already ‘agreed’ about the one, badmouth the competitor, or make sure to offer poor service knowledge/after-service support😉
- Do not redesign or change anything they request, saying that it’s a point of pride for you.
- Even when you are well aware of the priority platforms and devices, make sure to deliver the project as you see fit.
- Send them the wrong files or formats though they’ve mentioned it 50 times, especially after you made them annoyed with missed deadlines.
I could write a dissertation on why you should not do any of this, but I will save you some time and just write: NO!
5. Make them regret every choice they made that brought them to you.
- Send them random boomer “Good morning, coffee for my friends!” images and memes showing them how much they mean to you.
- Nothing creates a better bond than inviting your clients to take random online quizzes.
- Serve stale food or take them to a dive bar to talk about business, preferably with loud music.
- Be incoherent when speaking so much that you start sounding like a lunatic.
This one is a creative spin on certain situations I have encountered. As silly as it sounds here, these are real-life situations, and they are scary. They are so scary they could be a Halloween costume. It makes you anxious about the project and your own sanity.
This list sums up what can permanently damage our reputation and relationship with our client. When it comes to producing the worst client management, it takes almost as much effort as actually doing things right in the first place, so my advice to you would be:” If you’re gonna make an effort, make it at least in the right direction.”
Mila Janjic, Project Manager at Bridgewater Labs.
This blog post was first published on the Bridgewater Labs blog page on December 5, 2022. with the title “Blueprint on how to duck up client service.”