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Meeting over coffee
8 min read

10 Things You Wish You Could Say To Your Clients

Seven years of being self-employed is enough time to have the same client frustrations time and time again. You learn from the common ones in the early days to mostly avoid them, but no one is completely immune.

Even the kindest and most patient of my self-employed friends have confessed that in their head sometimes they are having a totally different conversation to the one they’re actually having with a customer.

If you’ve ever shouted at your computer or silently rolled your eyes whilst on the phone to a client, then it’s very possible you’ve played out the following conversations in your head:



You Say: “It’s not quite right”
I Say: “What exactly isn’t working for you?”
What I’m actually thinking: “I’m not a mind reader”

You asked me to do something but you didn’t answer my follow up questions or give me a detailed brief and you just expect me to knock it out of the park first time? You had so much faith in me, and despite my insistence, you fill out a brief (so we could avoid situations like this) now you’re unhappy that the work isn’t perfect or finished yet.

I know I’m good at what I do but I’m no mind reader. As much as you’re annoyed that it’s not what you had in your head, I’m the one having to do revisions and guess what is actually floating in front of your mind’s eye.

Maybe someone should start briefing workshops we can send our clients on… Or maybe I should just say no to work that isn’t clearly briefed. But then I really could do with the money…



You say: “I’m not actually sure about that bit, can you just…”
I say: “I’ll change it, but this revision is out of scope”
What I’m actually thinking: “There’s only so many revisions I’m prepared to do”

I did let you know in the quote how many revisions you would get for this particular piece of work. Did you just ignore that part? Or conveniently forget…?



You say: Nothing. But your invoice hasn’t been paid.
I say: “Your invoice is overdue. Please can you pay at your earliest convenience?”
What I’m actually thinking: “It’d really help my cash flow if you paid your invoice on time”

I don’t want to admit that I was really counting on that invoice being paid. I want to seem like I have plenty of work on right now and don’t need your money as much as I actually do. But, I actually do need that money, like today, please. Can you just sort it out?



You say: “You’re doing a great job”
I say: “Thank you!”
What I’m actually thinking: “I really hope I don’t let you down”

I know I might look like I’ve got my s**t together but I regularly doubt my abilities and I spent a good 30 minutes telling myself I can do the work you’ve asked me to do before starting it.

I dare not tell you that it wouldn’t surprise me if you emailed me saying you were wrong, I’m actually no good at my job and you’re firing me and going with my competitor down the road.

Imposter syndrome is a daily battle.



You say: “I really need this by Monday morning”
I say: “I’ll see what I can do, it might have to be Tuesday”
What I’m actually thinking: “I have a life too”

Have you forgotten I’m a human being, with a family and friends and plans? Because it seems like that urgent request you just sent me that absolutely has to be done by the end of the weekend has given you temporary amnesia.

How would you feel if I asked you to drop everything and do this one thing for me? I really don’t want to change my plans but I also don’t want to lose the work.


You say: “I need it this week please”
I say: “Let me look at what other deadlines I have and see what I can do”
What I’m actually thinking: “You’re not always my number one priority”

Well done me. I’ve clearly done a brilliant job at making you feel like you’re my most important client and I’m always thinking about you and your business… but you’re not always my number one priority.

I have other clients too you know. I can’t always drop everything for you…



You say: “It’s doesn’t seem to be working”
I say: “Have you been doing what I told you to do?”
What I’m actually thinking: “You haven’t actually done what I told you to do, have you?”

That advice and training that you paid for? You actually have to put it into practice regularly for it to work. It’s not just a one-time hit and you can then sit back and watch the money flow in. I wish it was, but it will only give you what you put in.

And no, you don’t need something different or to do another training course, you just need to do the work!



You say: “You’re the best-kept secret!”
I say: “Aww, that’s sweet”
What I’m actually thinking: “Please can you refer me to everyone you know?”

It’s really nice you want to keep me to yourself and all, but I need more work and it would be so helpful if you could tell other people how awesome I am so they might hire me too. Please?



You say: “You’re more expensive than your competitors”
I say: “Here are the results I typical achieve and the experience I have”
What I’m actually thinking: “Why don’t you go hire them then?”

I know you want me to reduce my prices and you think pointing out my competitor’s fees might guilt trip me into doing so, but it makes me feel like you don’t appreciate my value. I’ve priced my services according to my experience and the results I can offer. If that’s your budget, perhaps you should hire them, not me.



You say: “Thanks so much, this is just what we needed”
I say: “You’re welcome!”
What I’m actually thinking: “You’re my favourite client”

I love working with you the most that you’re the cream of the crop. But if you meet my other clients please don’t spill the beans! And please don’t change… I’ve put you on a pedestal for a reason and I’d hate for you to do something that would ruin that!



I’m sure these aren’t the only things you’ve wished you could say to your clients, but it’s a starter for ten. Do you have anything to add to the list? We’re all ears over on Facebook, Twitter and Instagram.

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Jen Smith

Jen Smith is an award-winning content and social media strategist and is one of our resident bloggers, with over five years writing for and supporting small businesses.

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