Project Management

Dealing with Customers from Hell

Kenneth has 14 years of healthcare experience in government and private industry. Over eight years of experience managing healthcare IT projects, operations, contracts, and personnel. His work experience includes project management, contracts and procurements, data analysis, claims adjudication, business writing, and business process modeling. Kenneth was certified in 2006 as a Project Management Professional.

In the land of project management, the customer is king. Unfortunately, all customers are not created equal--and sometimes project managers have to deal with customers from hell. These customers are never satisfied with anything and believe that the contractor should always do whatever the customer wants, that everything should have been done yesterday. They believe nothing is the customer’s fault.

While nobody likes to deal with those types of customers, it is better to have a customer from hell than no customer at all--and the project manager must learn to deal with them while getting the job done at the same time.

Documentation
Documenting everything is very important when you have a customer like this. Anything, no matter how small, can set them off and memories are never perfect. Saving emails and meeting minutes can often make the difference between having to change scope for no cost and getting a contract amendment to change scope on the project.

Oftentimes, the worse the customer is the more formal the documentation needs to be. Emails should be saved instead of discarded. When conversations happen in meetings, hallways or elevators and are not formally documented, then follow up emails should be sent summarizing what was said so that all parties have a record of it. You never know when something might come back and become important later down the…


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"There are painters who transform the sun into a yellow spot, but there are others who, with the help of their art and their intelligence, transform a yellow spot into the sun."

- Pablo Picasso

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