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Difficult Clients: What to Expect and How to Deal With Them

September 30, 2015


I was recently interviewed by Mark Henricks for American Express' Open Forum about difficult clients.


Mark Henricks via AmericanExpress.com:


No business survives without clients—and no business has clients for long before it becomes apparent that some clients are more difficult than others.We asked three business owners to discuss their most difficult clients and reveal how they deal with them.


Rich Stump is founder of Fathom, a 3D printing company in Oakland, California; Susan Stoga is partner at Carson Stoga Communications, a marketing communications company in Schaumburg, Illinois; and Dawn Reshen-Doty is president of Benay Enterprises, an administrative management and bookkeeping service firm in Danbury, Connecticut.


Are difficult clients a significant challenge for your business? In what way?


Rich Stump: In the 3D printing business, often we have customers with really tight deadlines. When engineers and designers get in a bind where they need something urgently, people behave differently. And a lot of times they’re good clients we want to retain. So it’s definitely a challenge for us.


Susan Stoga: In our business, we find two kinds of difficult clients: the client that doesn’t understand how the process works and wants things to happen that can’t always happen, and the client who wants things a certain way. It can be very difficult.


Dawn Reshen-Doty: In our business, clients tend to need things like a financial report customized at the last minute. Clients love to give you things at the last minute. I have a client in the midst of an acquisition that wanted us to do some reporting that’s totally different from what we normally do. We try to educate them, saying this is different and it will take some time to meet your needs.


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