All Clients Are Scum! Fact?

Pond Scum

Many agencies seem to have what I call BC Syndrome (Bloody Clients Syndrome). It drives me mad.

The conversation is almost always the same. Every sentence starts with the word, ‘they’ –

“They complain.”

“They always want more, nothing is ever good enough.”

“They think they are our only client.”

“They always sign things off late (not us).”

“They create the project delays (not us).”

“They create the project creep (not us).”

“They kick off when we have technical issues irrespective of whose fault it is.”

“They fail to respond to us quickly.”

“They pay late.”

“They don’t seem to understand what we are trying to do or when or how or why…”


I think to myself that it is more than just a coincidence that some agencies seem to get these clients so much more than others. Why can’t they see the irony… or the reality?

The fact is that a lot of this is mindset. What Carol Dweck calls a ‘limited mindset’ is where people believe the problem is not themselves.  In other words, the problem is all ‘them’ and not ‘us’.

It is a bizarre state of affairs when something keeps happening and yet the agency can’t see that it has a role to play in creating the situation. Or even that it is their perception that is the problem.

Good business practices would mean that you contract effectively with clients and that you are selective about which clients you work with and what you do with them. All clients are not born equal and all potential clients are not born equal. You must accept some of the blame for the behaviour of your clients. After all, you set and agreed to the terms and conditions of the arrangement and you had every opportunity to explain how things should work.

Yes, some clients are harder than others. Sometimes it is not their fault. But let’s be honest, what percentage are downright impossible to work with and what percentage just haven’t quite got their acts together? Is it 10% or 20%? Certainly not all.

We have clients we love. Literally. They get us and what we do. We love working with them. And, to be honest, if we are having issues in a relationship we don’t blame the other party. We try and fix things. We do not go straight to the blame game. I don’t believe that people deliberately go out of their way to make my life difficult. Normally there is a communication or expectation gap that can be sorted with an honest conversation.

So, what do I say to those agencies that whine endlessly about their impossibly unreasonable clients? Take a look in the mirror and be honest about how much you have contributed to the situation. Be honest about whether you have the right mindset or whether your natural response is to blame them.

Have you got BC Syndrome and if so, what are you going to do about it?

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