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Having irate clients sent your way


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#1 adam-s

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Posted 04 July 2006 - 10:57 AM

I had an interesting situation develop yesterday. I was communicating back and forth with a web designer that needed some freelance work for a client. After we laid everything out that needed to be done and prices and payment he just sends the client straight to me.

I ended up in a long distance phone call for almost an hour with his irate client that was sure that he had shafted her. It turns out he had not lived up to alot of his agreement with her. His site design was really nice but promised modifications to the code had not been made. To top it all of, he expected her to carry the bill for the freelance work.

I did get her calmed down and talking rationally but she was ready to move her business out of the designers hands. She wanted to know if I could help her from now on.

While I have no problem with taking care of her for programming things I'm not sure it quite feels right to go through with moving her site to one of my servers and taking over the management of it. It almost seems as if I would be violating some secret law.

Anyone else been in a similar situation. If she drops him totally then I might consider picking her up as a client but I'm still not sure.

#2 Black_Knight

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Posted 04 July 2006 - 04:19 PM

That's a tough one alright.

I mean, the guy is surely not going to refer anyone else to you if this one leaves right after he does.

So the question is, which is the more correct and valuable business decision in the long term? How many referrals could this guy send versus how many could this client? How much negative WOM could the guy send, versus how much positive she's likely to present.

There's an opportunity perhaps to mediate. To help maintain the relationship between all these parties. In doing that, he would definitely be likely to send more referrals in future as he may already know he's losing this client. There could be a real win-win-win if mediation is possible.

I would probably be entirely honest and forthright with this client about the decision. Point out that the guy she's dealing with was good enough to make the referral - good to you both in that respect. At least then you can discuss the issue, and she may well sympathise.

Any business, including hers, is only ever as good as its supply chain. Whether that chain is supplying materials, products, or leads - the supply chain is the basic support of any business.

#3 AbleReach

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Posted 04 July 2006 - 07:19 PM

After we laid everything out that needed to be done and prices and payment he just sends the client straight to me.

Giving you direct access to an unhappy client was a demonstration of trust. I wonder if the client has been problematic all along, or if the designer was looking for a positive way to deal with a bad relationship?

Unhappy people have evangelistic tendencies, and negative word of mouth can be passed on more than positive. You've got potential for negative WOM from both client and designer.

Referrals and outsourcing are a goodwill exchange for all concerned, if well managed. Good, clean communication like what Ammon laid out will be key to a positive outcome.


Two good discussions:
11 Clients You Need To Fire Right Now
Hire The Right Clients

#4 A.N.Onym

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Posted 04 July 2006 - 08:58 PM

I'd too try to solve the problem instead of thinking which one to break relationship with.

Perhaps indeed talking to both, the designer and the client, about the matter will allow you to find a way to settle this so everyone would be happy.

#5 adam-s

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Posted 04 July 2006 - 10:28 PM

Thanks for the replies and the advice. I pretty much said as much to the customer. I'm not sure where the relationship with the designer will go. The job is done and the client is very happy. She wants me to do more work for her but as the designer allowed me 100% I'll probably make contact with him and keep communication totally open if I can. He can't code so hopefully he'll appreciate her shifting that type of work my way.

Another thing I thought of... many times I've seen web designers that retain control of domain names and even total control over the code sometimes. If I tried to step in and offer her hosting on another server and other services it might turn into a nightmare trying to get control of the domain and such.

Very interesting. I'll try to learn what I can from it.

#6 adam-s

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Posted 05 July 2006 - 12:32 PM

LOl :D She ended up ditching the designer anyways. I gave it my best shot but I guess they were bound for divorce. She seems fairly easy to please but I'm always wary with things like that. I can see where the designer didn't hold up to his end of the bargain but still.

She is working with yet another designer. I had told her that design wise I fall into the category of inept. Very interesting situation.

#7 Black_Knight

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Posted 05 July 2006 - 05:28 PM

Thanks for keeping us updated with it Adam.

Whatever else comes of this, it has value as a learning experience. By sharing it here, you've effectively made it a shared learning experience, and gained even greater value from it. :)

#8 adam-s

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Posted 05 July 2006 - 06:32 PM

I'm hoping nothing else comes of it. I feel bad for the guy but I did try to keep his business for him. I even went as far as asking his permission for other programming work that the client wanted me to do. I haven't heard back from him at all. As long as I don't take a reputation hit for it I guess. I could have hosted her site and the works but I didn't for his sake. Man I need some ice cream.

Hopefully I'll be able to avoid similar situations in the future.

#9 AbleReach

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Posted 05 July 2006 - 07:02 PM

Wow - a "learning experience" without painful decisions about where to cut your losses!

Do yourself a happy dance and enjoy that ice cream. :)



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