How Do You Deal With a Meeting-Happy Client?
Do you have a client that wants to meet all the time, and for countless hours? Sometimes clients want to meet daily or will call you with no particular agenda in mind. How can you reduce these interruptions?
Meetings are often productivity-sucking leeches on your day. They interrupt your flow. When the client hurts your productivity, they are hurting themselves. Each meeting is pushing back the work that they are paying for, and you would both like to have soon as soon as possible. However, you don’t want to seem discourteous or unprofessional by telling the client no.
Why Do Clients Do This?
Clients could be calling meetings for some reasons. They may want to check in and make sure that you are making progress. It may be a subtle way they are trying to hold you accountable. They make have issues or concerns, and they just want to be heard. You need to address these concerns, while not being rude when you constantly shoot down your client’s invitations.
You Have To Take Control.
You are not just a freelancer; you are running a freelance business. The core of any successful business is the processes involved, which means you are in control of your processes. Calling your shots in that manner is the primary benefit of being a freelancer.
Here are some steps to build into your process to reduce meeting times and ensure your client feels content in the progress of the project.
First, Schedule a Regular Meeting
Set up a regular time you and the client can meet. It can be weekly, bi-weekly, or monthly. It can be in person or online. It doesn’t matter, so long as it works for both you and the client, and you can both keep your schedules clear. This meeting has a standing agenda to do three things:
- Review progress since the last meeting.
- Set the roadmap for what you will accomplish between now and the next meeting.
- Review any other questions or concerns from either party.
The very existence of this meeting can help reduce requests for meetings. If they still come up, you can respond with “We can address that point at the next regular meeting.”
Then, Give Your Client an Asynchronous Way To Leave Notes
Your client should have some way to give feedback between the meetings that doesn’t interrupt your workflow. The simplest form is email, as long as you are only checking email a couple of times a day. You could also use ticketing software such as ZenDesk, or a shared Asana list. Don’t get caught up on the tooling. Pick one you feel comfortable with and go with it.
Lastly, Put Your Foot Down (Politely)
You are going to have to tell the client “no” and push back. It may be uncomfortable, but that doesn’t mean that you are providing bad customer service. Customer service is about tone as much as it is about content. Explain the situation to your client politely, but firmly.
By limiting meetings, can you provide a better quality service to your client, either by producing higher quality work or delivering your work faster? If the answer is “yes”, then you shouldn’t have any scruples about refusing to meet consistently. Don’t be afraid to be transparent about this with your client. Clients have always been happy to hear me say “here are ways I’m improving my business so I can serve you better.”
Remember, your workflow and process is 100% in your control and is 100% your responsibility. It’s a great benefit, and one you shouldn’t waste.
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