The awesome moment when you lose a long term client

A web designer with whom I work has a problem:

“I bent over backwards for her for six months then she went to a competitor for her new website”

The web designer had created a (very good – I checked) website for a client.  The client had little understanding of web design and had complained and carried on throughout the entire process.  Her complaint “I don’t like it, I’ll know what I like when I see it” – arrrrggghhh. It’s the one thing everyone hates to hear, from a cake decorator, to a copywriter, to my poor friend the web designer.  The client called daily to pump my friend for information on everything from Photoshop tips to SEO opportunities.  The client’s brief was, well brief…  she was time consuming and a little bit rude.  She wanted her champagne service on her (lite, domestic) beer budget.  Being a professional and believing in the customer being right, my friend the web designer bent over backwards and produced a beautiful website.

When the client was happy, delighted, ecstatic, she promptly hired someone else for her next project.

What the web designer did wrong

The web designer told me that she just couldn’t gel with the client and that’s why she left.  The web designer had guilt over not being able to NAIL the design first time.  The web designer felt sad that she’d gone the extra mile and then some and the client seemed happy but she still went to a competitor (a nemesis in fact).

I’ve felt these feelings.  I have worried about these very things myself.  But these are not the things she did wrong.

She bent over backwards not just for the satisfaction of a perfect web project, but on the vague promise of a better paid job to follow.  That’s what she did wrong.

Don’t let the door hit your back end on the way out….

We have all been conditioned that we must at least strive to believe that the customer is always right.  If we can’t make the customer happy then perhaps we’re wrong.  In fact, her customer was a user, an amateur, was unprofessional and in all likelihood, someone who is never happy.  The woman believed that paying her very low rate (sweatshop low if you look at the per hour rate on the drama of it all) gave her the right to use my web designer friend.  The woman was a user.  While my friend was devastated that all her hard work had amounted to nothing what was actually happening was, the woman who was using her had gone to use her nemesis instead.  That’s a win in my view!

When it isn’t your fault you lost the customer…

Sometimes you suck.  It’s true. Everyone has “off days” or doesn’t do their best work.  If you customer was paying for your best work and you couldn’t deliver, then you lose one and it’s kind of on you.  If you’ve got sick kids or you’re sick yourself, you miss a deadline, you lose one, it’s on you – but family and health come first.  But when you lose one because their expectations are warped, their manner is rude and they expect you to also train them in your trade, then it’s not a loss, it’s a lesson. Business lessons are hard to learn.  Look at it this way… one website is a small price to pay for a lesson in not taking it personally, not letting people use you and not caring what mean people think.  Frankly, it’s a bargain.Lose the customer


1 Comment

  1. So relateable. When we really care about our work, take pride in it, we oftentimes look internally to learn where we went wrong and do better next time. However, there are some occasions where people are just impossible to please and the best thing we can do is move the hell on to bigger and better things. Too much energy, too much drama.

    Great article. Thanks!


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