In this episode we discuss the difficult conversations we all face when dealing with customers including pricing, misunderstandings, and more.

Segment 1 - Saying No

  • Sometimes customers relations aren’t just selling them on your latest theme, service, or skill - there comes a time where you have to deal with intricacies that have a negative connotation attached to them
  • Specifically these are often: pricing, value (of work and of the product to the customer), bad content (low quality images, bad copy, etc.) - essentially you’re saving them from themselves, their web presence should start out on the right foot when you’re done with it


  • Pricing
    • Pricing is almost always a major point of contention between you and your customer
    • People always want a lower price, and they’ll try anything to get it
    • The issue with you constantly lowering your price is that even if you don’t intentionally do this, you will have a lesser quality product because your motivation to complete it will drop.
    • Scope creep (customers adding features onto the original scope of the project) is especially bad when you’re doing a project and being underpaid - and the outcome will be of lesser quality
    • You should go into a pricing meeting with a price range in your head, or one solid price if you aren’t willing to negotiate, and stick to the plan. If the customer is unwilling to pay a price that you’re okay with, then you just have to back out politely (this isn’t gonna work, thanks for your time)
    • When it comes to older businesses, or specifically ones that don’t run off the internet, they have issues paying for online services like web development because their business doesn’t generally value the web too much


  • Value
    • Value and pricing go hand-in-hand, everyone wants what they paid for and preferably a low price on a high value
    • Sell customers on the value of your work can be difficult depending on how much they rely on their website
    • For example, if a company if almost completely reliant on their eCommerce site then upgrading it - even for a high price - may be something they’re willing to do to ensure the revenue keeps flowing
    • On the flip side, if you are working with a customer that simply has an online presence, like a basic website with a phone number - they’ll generally generate their customer via other means (newspapers, word of mouth, billboards, etc.) and therefore will value their online presence less.
    • When you have a customer that doesn’t value your services much, often times the project will be less complex, however, they won’t offer you a fair dollar for it because it doesn’t generate them enough business to pay for itself over the short term.
    • Sometimes a customer is looking to become more active online, which is why you were contacted, but they still don’t know the value of a good online presence, what it takes to generate traffic, how to manage social media, etc. In this case it can be very difficult to get a customer on-board with a price that you’re good with, versus the amount of work he wants done to become relevant online because they don’t understand the value of the work you’ll be doing for them


  • Bad Content
    • We’ve all been there, you’ve been hired to look at an old website that was designed for old SD monitors, you come up with a plan to revitalize it which results in a list of photos and other content that you require the customer send to you (ie staff photos, office photos, staff bios, etc.) and they just say to use the old ones because they look good
    • This is one of the hardest things to convince people to change, they’re attached to the old photos and text that they wrote years ago, but those small SD photos just aren’t equipped to handle the HD screens of today and will look awful
    • It’s your job, as unfortunate as it is, to politely push back on customers explaining to them that if they’re refreshing their site, they can’t have old assets on there or else it will look awful. You need to try and convince them to update everything to modern standards and to ensure that any copy is up-to-date
    • In order to do this try and tell them that their customers will take notice that their site looks messy, or slapped together for cheap which will leave them with a bad first impression.
    • You can also offer to make some of the content for them, if you’re willing and able to, for a price of course.
    • Ultimately it's your job to ensure that their web presence gets off on the right foot when you’re done with the project, ensure that things are as high of quality as you can.


Segment 2 - Aggressive Interactions

  • Handling a client that is angry can be a challenge
  • There are a few strategies that we use to to handle these situations when they arise
    • Let the client say their piece fully without interrupting them because if they are angry it’s important to figure out why before you can diffuse the situation
    • Once they seem to be done try to show empathy and don’t deflect their problem back at them. Even if it’s fully their fault take some time to think of it from their side and try to explain to them why the situation happened and what you will do to fix it
    • Don’t fire back at the customer, it will make them angrier, usually if you treat them with respect through this process they will realize they are overreacting.
  • Usually the reasons for these aggressive behaviours can be:
    • Miscommunications
    • Pricing conflicts
    • Design misunderstandings
    • Encountering bugs
  • Remember you’re the professional in this situation so you have to act like it. Prove to the customer that they should trust you with your decisions.
  • When you make a mistake own it and give the customer your immediate solution and the steps you will take for them to not happened again
  • Mistakes happened, most people will be very reasonable when they do as long as you’re clear with them. Aggression can occur when you try to hide something from the customer, especially if it’s a hidden cost or a detrimental experience.


Segment 3 - Waiting

  • A lot of negative customer relations can come from having to wait for a client
  • Waiting for them to answer an email, respond to your phone call, give you content, or any other situation where you are being held up by the clients lack of communication
  • Situations can arise where you have a tight deadline set by your client but are being forced to wait on them for content which will cause you to miss the deadline.
  • To mitigate these situations you have to give your clients deadlines as well. Clearly explain that if they do not meet them then you cannot finish by the deadline they need their product by. These clear and deliberate communications will set a precedent with your clients.
  • Some good advice that I heard listening to the latest Syntax podcast [The Freelance Client Lifecycle] was to treat your clients as more of a partnership with them. Where you are trying to get something done together, rather than a them vs us mentality.
  • As we are learning some clients don’t like to read emails in their entirety so it might be beneficial to give them a call a day or so after a lengthy email and ask if they have any questions or concerns


  • False Urgency

    • A major pet peeve that comes into projects in a variety of ways
    • Entails calling something an emergency without there actually being an emergency
    • Often times causes things to be rushed and of lower quality than they would be normally
    • Sometimes this can cause additional charges on clients who are unsuspecting
    • Common false urgency dispatchers:
      • Marking emails are urgent
      • Saying something is an emergency within an email
      • Calling a frequently or out of normal work hours (late at night, early in the morning)
    • These dispatchers are exactly how people actually contact you for a real emergency, however, they’ll try and add urgency to something that isn’t actually urgent just to get it done faster
    • Often times we’ll quickly do whatever they ask if we’re available only to have those edits go unchecked, or unused, for several weeks
    • Constant false urgency calls only result in slower response times, and may result in actual emergencies being missed because of the “boy who called wolf” scenario

Web News - The Facebook Messaging Toss-Up

“Facebook is working to allow cross-messaging between Facebook Messenger, Instagram, and WhatsApp, according to a report in The New York Times this morning. Each service will continue to operate as a standalone app, but according to the Times, Facebook is rebuilding the underlying infrastructure so that people who might use only one of Facebook’s properties could communicate with others within the company’s ecosystem. All of the apps will support end-to-end encryption as well. Facebook has yet to provide a timeline for when this will happen.” - The Verge (


Facebook Spokesperson Statement

“We want to build the best messaging experiences we can; and people want messaging to be fast, simple, reliable and private. We’re working on making more of our messaging products end-to-end encrypted and considering ways to make it easier to reach friends and family across networks. As you would expect, there is a lot of discussion and debate as we begin the long process of figuring out all the details of how this will work.” - The Verge (


  • What of Instagram Direct?

    • It’s integrated into Instagram itself, does that mean we’ll have duplicate notifications?
    • There is a separate Instagram messaging app available in limited countries (not in Canada) called “Direct from Instagram” maybe the messages will be removed from the main Instagram app?
  • Facebook messaging was removed from Facebook’s app and put into “Messenger”
  • WhatsApp was acquired by Facebook in 2014
  • General UX Questions
    • Will there be a main app that people should use?
    • Will you lose native features of an app that you don’t have installed (ie WhatsApp profile pic)
    • Is there going to be a totally new combined app for phones?
    • Will this work on PC? (if I boot up Messenger either within or on the separate web app, will I be able to message WhatsApp folks?)
    • Do I need to sign-up for all of them?
  • Assuming you just need one app, which one are you going to use?

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