For every ten great clients, there’s always one that is difficult to work with, it’s unavoidable. So, what do you do with a difficult client while being a land survey expert witness? You can’t just ignore them and block their calls. That could cause potential action from the survey board. Every client deserves to be happy with the service you provide and treating people fairly is essential. The number one reason the board brings actions against surveyors is because of either lack of communication, or billing/administrative issues. Okay, then how do you resolve the situation? This covers three possible scenarios to help you deal with difficult clients.
- Overcommunication from the client.
Sometimes clients become a little too overzealous in their communication calling you at all hours of the day and night. The number one recommendation to avoid overcommunication from the client is to be proactive with your own communication. Be upfront with your own expectations and set boundaries right off the bat. “I’m available between 8:00 am and 5:00 pm. Please keep your communication within that time frame.” Most of the time, the client will respect the parameters you set and respect you. If a client fails to respect the rules you set, you can refer their case to another surveyor. This avoids any possible conflict that might occur as a result of their lack of boundaries.
- Client that doesn’t pay on time or questions the bill.
Protect yourself with a written contract that includes a billing policy. This written contract clearly states your expectations for payment. Invoicing should be on a regular schedule, for example, once a month on the 15th. If you send the invoice regularly and the client doesn’t respond, your contract should determine your next course of action. For example, after 15 days of no payment from the client, they receive an email notification. After 30 days, they receive a follow up phone call. At 45 days, they receive another email explaining the process that takes place after the client refuses to pay. 60 days in, call the client and explain the payment process again. At 90 days, the client is dropped and the bill shifts to collections. Making these points clear will help you have a better relationship with the client.
It often helps to communicate the value of your product so the client understands that quality service and time costs more. Sometimes clients may ask for a discount on your services, make sure to set limits for your discounts before tackling the client’s requests. There is always the option to refer to other surveyors if the client fails to understand or can’t pay the fees.
- Is it legal? Does it comply with local ordinances? Have you put extra time into your work?
Every once in a while, you may get a client who asks you to do things that weren’t originally agreed to or aren’t legally permissible. You don’t want to compromise your ethics, so finding a way to legally accomplish the survey and explain to the client what you can and cannot do is important. If they still fail to understand, you can refer the client to another surveyor.
To recap, communicate with your client on all aspects of the process from the survey to billing. Make your expectations of the client clear at the beginning of the process in the form of a contract. Stay in communication with your client and keep them informed as you go along. Difficult clients are often a result of miscommunication. If need be and none of the tips work you can refer the client elsewhere. Following these helpful tips should make the expert witness process easier for both you and your client.