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Marketing / Business relationships

Red faced: Real life awkward client moments

When the wheels fall off in front of a client it can be truly mortifying, and it happens to the best of us. Laugh along with these 15 real life awkward client moments… but just hope you’re not next!

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If you have a truly awkward moment with a client, use your sense of humour, manage it in the moment and move on. Then run home and hide your face in a pillow.

I could tell you loads of personally embarrassing and awkward moments that have shaped me.

Having a bird crap on me in the middle of the school oval. Watching my mum fall flat on her face trying to smuggle pizza onto a bus (long story). I share your wonder I’m the (barely functioning) human that I am.

But when awkward happens with a client, it’s a new level of humiliation. Enjoy these classic awkward moments, and ask me about the pizza story if we run into each other.

"Word of advice, you don’t look like your profile pic, I’d recommend you don’t meet in person."

What’s my age again?

Someone asking you to guess their age is always awkward. Even more so when it’s a new client on a Skype call. I momentarily forget my training as a diplomatic human and offered a guess instead of letting them wow me. I didn’t guess right. It was the beginning of a short, tumultuous and ultimately unsatisfying relationship. Awkward turtle.

Handshake to kiss in 0.3 seconds

A client and I accidentally kissed on the lips as part of the ‘meet and greet’ at an agency meeting, in front of six colleagues.

Everyone spent the meeting struggling to keep a straight face, with occasional giggling outbursts. Luckily, the client was lovely and the work we did was creative and lots of fun. But still…

‘Rachel’, writer

If in doubt, don’t point it out

I gestured to an important client they had a large crumb on their face. She stared me down and said, “Thanks, but its dry skin.”

‘Bryan’ i.e. someone who’d like to keep their client

Word of advice

My client asked for a face to face meeting. When I arrived, they looked me up and down and said, “Word of advice, you don’t look like your profile pic, I’d recommend you don’t meet in person.”

Kate Toon, SEO guru and author of Confessions of a Misfit Entrepreneur

Leaving your mark

“Bum sweat on the client’s chair. It was a hot summer!” Say no more.

Lee, professional organiser

You’re all a bunch of…

I was delivering advanced customer service training (that was a thing in the 90s) and I said customer with an n in place of the s. I was so shocked I didn’t finish the word. Which made it worse!

Jenny De Lacy, The Visibility Coach

Adult entertainment

I was training a client on his own laptop to use the brand new website we’d just created for him. Every time I opened a new tab, p*rn sites would come up as part of his browser history. Clear your cache people.

Brook McCarthy, Hustle & Heart

Dance like no one’s watching

As part of an inside joke, I videoed myself singing ‘Thrift Shop’ by Macklemore – a big performance with bad gangster posing, big (awful) vocals and dancing like no one was watching.

Someone was watching… my new website client who received the message instead of my friend. Oops. She now refers to me in emails as Macklemore. I deserve it.

‘Lewis’, web developer

Sweating the small stuff

After sprinting to an important meeting on a hot day, I found myself in an airless reception that felt like a sauna. Add some nerves, and my once light blue shirt was saturated with sweat. After a wet fish handshake, I tried to ignore the sweat pooling on the table. My client asked, “Is there something wrong?”. Yes, yes there was. I made an undignified exit.

Peter Crocker, Flying Solo

Lost in translation

When my Japanese client asked me, “Do you know when George Bush will have the next erection?” Thankfully not.

Maria Doyle, Create Real Change

Tainted love

As I was winding up a client call, I absentmindedly said ‘love you’ to sign off. I was mortified! We ended up having a good laugh, but I’ve never heard the end of it!

Rebekah, Account Manager

Flying low

Fly down for an entire 15-minute conversation with new clients. When I realised, I had to make the excruciating decision of whether to address the issue then and there or act oblivious and risk looking like a creep. Ended up holding my folder there at a weird angle and ran away the first chance I got. I knew that they knew, that I knew, they knew…

Rob, mortgage broker

Message received

I bitched about a customer on Facebook messenger and accidentally sent it to another customer instead of a friend. Not my best customer service moment!

Kiera, Straight from the Hart

Tread lightly, edit lighter

A client sent me a document which I assumed was part of an editing project. I ripped it to shreds and sent it back covered in edits. Turned out it was their brand guideline, not open for discussion, and was their example of the quality they wanted in the rest of their content. I was paralysed with embarrassment. Read your emails properly!

Kylie, Magnetism Copywriting

Practice makes perfect

Clients applying for a home loan mentioned their good budgeting was because they don’t have kids, eat at home and don’t have a life. I said, “Oh, sounds like you’re practicing for having kids.”

They laughed along with me, but 9 years later, I still avoid eye contact when I see them in the neighbourhood.

Regan, former home loan advisor

How about you? Any awkward client moments to share?

Amanda Vanelderen

is the author of Write Better: How To Cut The Crap And Say What You Mean, an illustrated guide to everyday writing. Copywriter at WorkWords, she’s a news junkie and music lover. Connect with her on Facebook, Instagram and Linkedin.

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