Got annoying clients? Stop rolling your eyes and start learning from them.

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I got an email on Monday afternoon from a client, forwarding on a complaint from one of their customers that they couldn’t sign up for a newsletter on my client's website.

The original email was certainly to the point: “I can't register for the newsletter on the website. The link doesn’t work. Can't find it if I do a search for it on the site either.”

Oh, really??

I have bullet-proof checks and systems. I know the links all work. I know if a website visitor searches for “newsletter” then they should get results which lead them to the newsletter sign up page.

I’m not sure which came first, the sigh or the eye roll. I’m fortunate that I can multi-task, so it’s quite possible I did both at the same time. Dealing with this was going to waste my time.

I checked the links. They all worked. I double-checked, yes, they really did all work. I searched for both “newsletter” and “sign up” and I got the results I was expecting - links to the newsletter page. 

The original customer was mistaken.

Except they weren’t.

Sometimes, when you’ve been working closely on something for a while, you stop seeing things that are right in front of you.  

You unwittingly suffer from a mental blind spot.

That's what had happened to me.

I had stopped seeing the announcement bar spanning the website (in a contrasting bright colour!) urging visitors to sign up for the newsletter. When we set it up, I hadn’t thought to add it to my so-called bulletproof checklist. (Multi-tasking yet again, I am both ashamed and mortified at the same time).

So although the complaining customer had never even made it as far as the newsletter page, I took another look at it. 

The page has links to download the last couple of newsletters on the left and a sign up box on the right. It all seemed pretty straight forward.

But I have to concede that it’s just possible, if viewed on a mobile with a small screen, that you might have to scroll ever-so-slightly to see the sign up box because the most recent newsletters were prioritised. 

To me it’s plainly obvious, but I can see that just possibly it might not be for someone else. So I added a line right underneath the last newletter link, prompting people to sign up using the form below. 

The original complainant did me a service. 

I had made a mistake. 

I fixed it, and then I improved a page that I had thought was clearly laid out to one that (hopefully!) leaves no room for error.

Who knows how many other customers may have encountered the same problem and not bothered to feedback, just got frustrated and moved on?

I learned that my "bullet-proof" checks and systems need to be rebranded into something less exciting but more accurate.  Perhaps they are "very comprehensive" checks and systems?!

So next time a client makes you roll your eyes, even if you think they’re wrong, or just being difficult – and let’s face it, sometimes a client can be difficult just because - just check out their complaint.  Try and see the world with different (non-rolling) eyes.  They might have a point.

Disclaimer: my eye rolls are not as good as Judge Judy's.  I'll work on it.