Skip to content


5 Tips Research Consultants Can Use for Handling Difficult Clients


5 Tips Research Consultants Can Use for Handling Difficult Clients


Thinking that your job would be better without hard-to-deal-with clients should not apply in a profession where you are genuinely passionate about your work. Yet, it can sometimes feel like clients are doing everything they can to ruin your day.

Over time, some clients can be such a pain with such frequency that you may wonder how to continue the relationship. Here are some tips for anyone facing this situation to help them stay in control while keeping both themselves and their client happy:

Imagine If You Were Them

The easiest and most important way to avoid conflict is to imagine things from the other person’s perspective. When we receive pointed criticisms or become frustrated with a client’s actions, responding in anger can be easy. However, giving them the benefit of the doubt and examining how your actions could be interpreted benefits the conversation and makes it more productive.

As an example, clients who have not responded to your emails should not automatically prompt terse language. Instead, say something like “I am sure you have been busy this week, so I am sorry if I am pestering you, but do you think you have the time to look over what I sent earlier?”

Listen and Repeat, Then Get It All in Writing

Listening is a critical client-service skill. Double-checking to see if what you heard was correct works even more in your favor.

Effective consultants go even further by recapping everything in writing afterward. Whether it was a simple conversation or a complete rundown of the project scope, sending a follow-up email with a summary of the details can prevent discrepancies and disagreements down the road.

Ask Tough Questions

Never be afraid to question any assumptions or dig deeper for answers with a client. Saying, “do you think this way would work, too?” or “couldn’t this decision cause this problem?” in an honest, non-aggressive way can lead to productive conversations and fill in communication gaps.

Work Through Their Team

If you genuinely think that you are not going to be able to get through to a client, consider going under their head to work with someone else on their team who has more aptitude for collaborative work.

You can phrase this approach innocently, such as saying “You seem to have a lot of responsibilities to juggle. Is there any way I could book a meeting with your subordinate and explain everything to them in detail? It would mean less work for you, after all.”

Know When to Walk Away

Not every client is worth the time or frustration they cost. Always be thinking about opportunity costs, and never be afraid to cut ties with someone when you cannot imagine your partnership working out.

Alternatively, you can outsource project management to a firm like CFR, Inc. We offer project management as well as recruiting and data collection to alleviate your burden and help you stay happy with troublesome accounts.

Stay In The Loop

Subscribe to our blog today to get the latest posts delivered straight to your inbox. Don’t miss a beat in the ever-evolving arena of market research.