Getting clients to do what you want them to do

Let’s talk about training your clients like you’d train a dog.


This started from a support request for Content Snare. It went something like this

We’re using Content Snare to collect content and files, but our client just keeps putting everything in Dropbox. How do I get them to use Content Snare instead?

It reminded me of when we moved our clients to a new support system for our digital agency. Instead of emailing me directly (ew) for website changes, I wanted them to email a help@ email address. This went directly to our tech guys and project manager.

For maybe half of our clients, it took just the one email for them to make the change.

The other half continued to email me. I would nicely remind them about what they should be doing, and forward it on to the support desk.

In other words, they still got what they wanted.

Want to get more productive and automate your business to create more free time? Sign up for my newsletter and I'll send you a guide on the exact tools and systems you can use to save 25+ hours every single month. Click here to get the guide.

The reminders were enough for 25% of our client base. But there were still a bunch sending email directly to me. They were straight up ignoring instructions, no matter how much I asked.

Then it hit me.

At the same time I had a new puppy (she’s gorgeous af) and was in the middle of training it. The main principle with dog training is rewarding good behaviour.

Instead, I was rewarding bad behaviour with my clients by forwarding their emails to the support system. The things they asked for would be done, despite doing things the wrong way.

With one simple change all of this was fixed in 3 weeks. Every remaining client learned the right way.

This is all I did:

When an email came to me that should have gone to support, I archived it.

A reminder would bounce back a week later. Then I would reply saying

Oh sorry I’m just seeing this. My email has been out of control lately. Can you please send this directly to – that goes directly to the guys and they’ll be onto it WAY faster than if you send it to me.

Heh 🙂

So simple, and it worked a treat.

The moral of the story? Treat your clients like dogs.

Of course I’m kidding, but it’s kind of funny that this is almost the exact way you train a dog.

If you let people (or dogs) walk over the rules and constraints you have in your business, they’ll keep doing it.

And that’s even worse than losing clients.

You’ve designed your business and systems for a reason. It’s up to you to enforce your own process.

One caveat: The process still has to be easy for your clients. In the example above, if the process was to…

“go to our website, then click on the support button, remember your login, then login. Click add new ticket, type a subject, then a message and click submit”

…. of course no one is going to do that. It’s still gotta be simple.
And this brings me back to the Content Snare message.

We’re using Content Snare to collect content and files, but our client just keeps putting everything in Dropbox. How do I get them to use Content Snare instead?

It should be communicated early & often that you’re using a data collection tool – and this is where everything has to go.

This applies to ANY systems and process that you use. For example’s sake, I’m using Content Snare.

You’d explain that it:

  • ensures nothing gets missed
  • keeps everyone on the same page
  • helps prevent content delays that typically hold up every project

Yes, these are actual things I say to clients in the proposal, onboarding docs and in meetings.

Communicate that if they want to do things in a different way, that’s ok, there will just be additional fees for “content editing” or whatever you want to call it.

In this case I’d argue that the client shouldn’t even have the option of Dropbox. If they send a Dropbox link, you’d reply and ask them to upload it to the correct place, NOT do it for them.

Protect your time and boundaries.

This process also applies to other content tools like Gather Content and GatherKit.

Related resources

James Rose

James Rose

James is the co-founder of Content Snare - a software platform that helps professionals collect content & files from clients.

Once an automation engineer, his new priority is to help business owners regain their lives, be more productive and get more done in less time.

Learn how to save 25+ hours every week with automation. Get the guide when you sign up for the productivity newsletter. Click here to get it..