Saturday, December 17, 2016

A Different Kind of PITA Client

In response to yesterday's blog post about "8 Warning Signs of Difficult Clients," I got this question from a fellow resume writer:

I have one more type of resume client that is a PITA: the one that seemingly responds to your questions but, upon careful reading, has actually provided only the most general information –- no data, no quantifiable results. I am working with a nightmare like that right now where everything is “exceeded expectations” and he “helps a lot” or “enjoys helping others.” 

Due to this lack of information and vagueness, I have procrastinated ridiculously on this project. This is not the first client I have run into with this issue, and I’ve talked with others who have encountered exactly the same thing. I just spoke with someone who had a client who left all kinds of things out -- and, when pressed, she kept saying “Well, that was contract work, so it doesn’t count” or “I didn’t think that was important.” (I had another client recently who left off really outstanding information, for the same reason.)

I would love to know more about either:
* How to structure a questionnaire so this won't happen, or
* How to conduct an intake consult so this won't happen (so I will have all of the information I need)

Is a phone intake best? I have avoided it because I do not take notes well any more –- used to, but not now. 

Ideas, Bridget?

MY RESPONSE:

Hi!

You're absolutely correct! And sometimes these turn into the "traditional" PITA clients because you press them for details (which they can't give) and then when they get the resume, they say: "You didn't put any new information into it." (Which you respond in your head with: "What am I, a miracle worker? Mind-reader?).

In this case, I go back to the client (usually via email) and tell them that I need more specific information in terms of ##, %%, or $$. I usually give them 5-7 REALLY specific questions to answer (my full questionnaire can be 15-20 pages, so I understand how that can be overwhelming, so I tell them these are the things I really need help with).

(I usually pull from my "Ask Better Questions, Write Better Resumes" questions) And if not, that idea of open/closed questions that I talk about on the "How to Talk When They Balk" call can help. Sometimes it's asking the question a different way.
If they come back to what without good answers, I just go ahead and write from what I had. (Remembering what Phil Graves of 1-Day Resumes once told me (paraphrasing) -- they come in with a 2 or a 3, and even a resume that is a 7 or 8 is better than that! We can't always give them a 10, especially when they don't give us good information to work with!)

I never (never!) offer to get on the phone with them. They know when they choose to work with me that they're going to be working with me virtually. (I would charge more if I did phone consultations.) In fact, when prospects come to me and want to give their information by phone, I refer them to writers who work that way. (It's one of the ways I avoid what might become one of my PITAs!) My clients know up front that I collect the information via questionnaire and their existing documents.

Hope that helps!

Bridget


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