Why I'd be a terrible client

Statistically speaking, 100% of anyone who has ever worked in any organisation with any clients ever has complained about those clients. It’s just maths.

And if you work in account service in an advertising agency, the likelihood of your chances of being part of that 100% doubles. Maths.

I’m going to expose a shocking revelation about myself - I have, from time to time, been known to be part of that 100% statistic. Or is it 200% with the whole double rule? I don’t like maths.

It seems to come with the territory of being a Suit that it’s normal to complain about things such as lack of details in client briefs, or getting told to drop everything for urgent tasks with unrealistic timeframes and for a budget of $72.50, a peanut and a second hand button. 

We complain as if, were the tables turned, we would be capable of withstanding the pressures of our internal structure and always be timely and reasonable when briefing in an agency, asking for outputs aligned with the budget we know is available, and having the time to think about the golden insight to put into the brief that can help them on their way. 

Or more realistically, we don’t consider the pressure clients are under and we just jump to default complain mode.

This is where you think I’d say ‘but just try to consider it from their point of view’.


Instead, look at what you’re already doing as a client to some of your suppliers.

Actually, only one.

Your IT department (or more likely ‘the IT guy’).

Here’s how I work with my IT department:

Scenario 1:

IT: Here’s a company wide email with ample lead time warning you of some upcoming changes that will impact your life.

Dave: That’s something for next Monday. It’s still Thursday.**Deletes email**

IT: Here’s further warning of that change that is going to impact your life, and we’re giving you warning for your own good.

Dave: It’s Friday and I’m busy, go away IT. **Deletes email**

IT: That change we’ve told you was going to happen, it’s happening today, here are the simple steps you need to follow:

Dave: Eh, Monday admin. **Deletes email** 

1 hour later - I’m locked out of the server or my email or something that’s now inconvenient.

Dave: (calling IT) can you come to my desk and do that thing for me?

Moral of scenario 1: I’m just the worst guy ever. And so is everyone else considering the answer to the final question is ‘sorry Dave but you’re in a queue of 150 people’. Just because you’ve told someone something, it doesn’t mean it’s been, or going to be actioned. If it effects their life right now, they may jump on it if it’s more important than everything else… but you often have no control over, or foresight into other people's priority list at any given time.

Scenario 2:

In the first week of your job, you get an IT induction. They explain how your computer works, where everything is stored, and how to make technology work in every meeting room.

Every week since that induction:

Dave: (calling from a meeting room at 10:59 for an 11:00am client presentation) IT, I need you to come to talk me through how to turn the projector screen on.

IT: I can be up in 5mins, I’m just on another call.

Dave: It’s for an important meeting, I literally need you to drop everything and help me.

IT: You’re the worst person ever.

Moral of scenario 2: I actually am the worst person ever. Again. Flipping this one back to clients, how many times I’ve received ‘drop everything’ calls and rolled my eyes. I had a nice priority list for the day that I was working through, and this ruins everything. I don’t actually know the solution to this apart from - as Nike would say - just do it. It’s the joy of account service and it will never go away.

Scenario 3:

Dave: (calling IT) Hi, I’m going to a meeting for 45 mins, in that time can you fix my computer? It’s that problem I mentioned to you in the kitchen whilst we were waiting for our meals to heat up and I forced you to engage in work chat. Gotta run bye!

IT: Wait, what’s the problem? Who is this? Where do you sit? Do you even know my name?

**Dave has already left**

Moral of scenario 3: Get used to writing a reverse briefs! Because a client thinks they’ve told you some info in passing, it’s up to you as a suit to be attentive, create a point of view on the problem they’re trying to solve, and articulate it.

So if there’s one thing you take out of this, please choose the take out that you should be better to your IT department, rather than the whole ‘Dave is a massive spanner’ interpretation.