The Hidden Cost of People Pleasing In Your Business

When I first started my business, I would constantly ask, “What do you think?” to my client. Finally, one day a great client said to me, “Why do you keep asking me what I think? Isn’t that what I hired you for, your ideas and to tell me why I need it this way?” I was taken back at first and felt so embarrassed, but after really thinking about it, I realized she was right. 

Did you know there is such a thing as a client pleaser? It is just like people-pleasing, but this affects your business. But aren’t I suppose to please my clients? Well, yes and no.

Yes, making a client happy and having them love the outcome of the service you provided is the ultimate goal. That is call customer satisfaction. But “Client Pleasing” is when you are waiting for the client to tell you what to do, which is wrong. Why? Because the client hired you to help them have the outcome they bought from you.

How Not To Fall Into “Client-Pleasing Syndrome”

What I have learned is to find a better balance. My clients are so much happier with my work and their final results since I implemented these things.

Get To Know Your Client
Before working with someone when you are on that initial call, you want to ensure they will work well with your process. It is essential to know if your process feels comfortable to the client. If they want you to completely change your hours of working and what you offer as a service, you won’t be a good fit. They need to find someone who works the way they need, which might not always be you. 

Sell Your Solution
You have now presented your client with ideas, but they seem not as excited as you thought. What I have found over the years is if you don’t explain why you have done it that way, they aren’t going to get it and ultimately be unhappy. Learn from each client presentation what you can do better, and in no time, you will have a lot more wins with your first pitch. 

Dealing With A Undecisive Client
So you have presented them with your concepts/solutions, but they want to see something else. You need to have it in a contract before your start how many revisions you can make. Let’s say you are willing to do one revision, but they still want to see more. I let my client then show me what they want by taking them to the showroom directly or send them a link. I will simply say, “I have given you my preferred option and will need more input from you to help you make the right choice.”  If they still struggle, you go back to your preferred option and let them know that is what you feel will work best for them. 

First, listen to their challenge with your idea and see if there is a compromise. Stick to your ideas and solutions when you feel it is the right thing to do. Indecisive clients are lacking a bit of confidence and afraid of making a mistake. They need to feel confident in your choice, and if you start showing a lack of confidence, they will not buy it. 

Don’t Take It Personally
But Karen, I want creative control over all my projects. While we are not client pleasing, we ultimately want a happy client. 

I always take a look at where did we go wrong in communicating their wants and needs. Did I get enough details from them? Is their new idea a good option for them? If you struggle with compromising, it is time to look at your services and what you offer. Sometimes that can be the challenge here; that is your process in how you work. You may want to provide “Design Only Services” where the client gets a plan they can change. It is a great option for a client who likes to work on the design and leaves you not dealing with the changes. You want to ask those questions before even starting working with them, so they fit the service.

How To Say No And Still Have A Happy Client
I have had to say, “no, that will not work,” even when a client is determined. You will want to give them why. For example, as an Interior Designer, I often have clients who want way too much furniture for their space. I show them a floorplan that explains why it can’t work. I also joke about how I so wish I was a genie who can magically move the wall to make the room bigger. 

Remember, they hired you for the expertise, and they don’t want a yes to everything. It is a simple factor of really explaining “the why it can’t work” well enough to understand.

Under Promise And Over Deliver
Finally, underpromise and overdeliver is my motto. Never promise anything you aren’t sure you can deliver. It is so much easier to impress a client by being careful about what you promise. I would rather over-deliver, leaving them happy with the outcome. Clients value honesty and being told if their budget isn’t enough or the timeline is unreasonable. 

By showing them you are an expert and are in charge is the best way to have a happy client. 


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