The 12 types of toxic clients (and how to identify them)

Every business has to deal with all kinds of customers. Some are very good, educated customers who know how to value our work, however many times they need our services or products.

But other times we have to deal with customers who are not clean wheat. Uneducated, critical, anxious, insecure or those who ask us for discounts when it doesn’t happen.

Below we will find out the types of toxic clients that in any company, it is up to us to find, given its main characteristics.

    The 12 types of toxic clients and their characteristics

    The relationship with customers always depends on the context, aspects related to the time and place where the interaction with them takes place. However, beyond that, we can recognize the types of toxic clients keeping in mind that these are not hermetic categories and do not sum up how these people are in all situations in their life; we’re just relying on the kind of predisposition they’re showing in front of us.

    Then let’s find out about the 12 most common types of toxic clients, In addition to learning how to identify them and what problems they usually cause.

    1. Customer control

    The controlling client is the one who over and over again it bothers us to know how the project or the product that we will offer is going.

    He’s the guy who constantly calls us, brings us new proposals in the mail, and changes the course of the project over and over again. They need to be in “control” of the situation and since they cannot control us like we are puppets, they feel like they have some power knowing that we are doing and that we are not doing.

    Supervision is great as sometimes things can go wrong in the production process or there are details you wish you knew so you could change them. The problem is that constantly being on the lookout for what we’re doing and stopping doing is a real problem, because in addition to wasting our time it gives us the impression that we do not trust our experience, our perseverance and our responsibility.

    2. Hypercritical client

    As the name suggests, the hypercritical client is the one who critiques everything. He’s never happy with what we’ve done, showing him to be demanding and perfectionist to extreme levels.

    Of course, you have the right to ask for the best, because no one wants to pay to receive something that does not meet quality standards.

    The problem is, the client is hypercritical sees flaws where there are none, Or focus on the ones that don’t matter much. Our work is not enough and on top of that he is not able to see all the good things that we have done.

    3. Impatient customer

    The impatient customer he is constantly rushing, waiting to see if what he asked for is already happening. He seems to think that the more he watches how we are doing, the sooner he will get what he asked for. This gives us haste, but we still have to stick to the agreed upon agreement.

    But above all, it is not he who accomplishes what it takes to be punctual. If we asked him to show us any documentation or to tell us on a specific date what he wanted, he simply told us that it had happened to him.

    As he is the client, he sees himself in the right to demand the haste of others, but he does not have to. According to him, if we deliver the agreed upon at the last minute, we will already do our “magic” and we will be able to do our part on time.

      4. Undecided customer

      Insecurity, indecision and fear of giving an explicit answer are the defining characteristics of the indecisive client. He is not able to choose both a proposal or an option that we have indicated to him. It is normal to have a certain indecision during the first contact with a professional, but now not having anything clear is a big problem for us, because it consumes our time, our energy and our patience.

      He needs more proposals, more innovative ideas, something that comes out of everyday life, but then what was in principle original no longer seems so much. Loop to start another project when the previous one had already been determined or even the end was reached. He wants to change everything a bit before the presentation.

      5. Grumpy customer

      The cranky customer seems very hypercritical as he never seems to be happy with the job we have done. This type of client is the one who always blames the problems on other people, both us and the professionals as well as others involved in the process.

      He needs a scapegoat to project his own mistakes. He focuses on the little flaws rather than seeing the big advancements or benefits of the product / service, showing a terribly biased view and, on top of that, saying that others don’t get it.

      He is usually the type of client who talks badly about other professionals, which is why you have to be very careful. Talking badly about other professionals may make us think that you have really had bad luck and now have the possibility of receiving a great service or product. The problem is, that is not going to happen to him, he was very critical of what we did and he is going to include us in his list of bad professionals.

      6. Offending customer

      The worst. The offending client is the one who, by going to the professional, he doesn’t have the respect he deserves, even if he’s the one who came to help him. He doesn’t take our profession seriously, or he makes nasty statements like “it does to my niece” or “I’m doing this with my eyes closed” But what did he know that we don’t know?

      He does not listen to our explanations and does not respect our agreements. It does not give us calm, and above all it is not clarified with what he wants. We don’t work for hours in a row to have someone with bad words come and tell us that we are not doing well. We are the experts in what we offer, so we have the right to protect ourselves from these people. These are people who can be affected.

      7. Restless customer

      Anxiety is what characterizes the anxious customer, as one can deduce from his name. You need to know the project step by step before giving the green light to start. The problem is, you have to make sure that everything is going well, both for the good use of your money and for your sense of security. He worries that things will turn out really badly, rubbing the pathological.

      It is the customer who is interested in the product or service but who does not dare to pay for it because he thinks it might hurt him (for example, buying a cell phone and believing that it is going to explode) or be afraid of wasting money (eg., victim of a scam). He always gets into the worst. He doesn’t trust experience, he doesn’t believe anything he tells you. Even though we insist the project is going well, he doesn’t seem to believe it.

      8. Customer angry with the world

      This type of client is a toxic client depending on what has happened to you recently. This is the person who, either because of his personality or because he had a bad day, today it’s up to him to be angry with the world, And in this world we find ourselves. Their way of expressing themselves is mostly based on yelling, and harsh expressions that can be aggressive and offensive are not spared.

      It is generally those who define themselves as direct people, who go to the degree, but it is that to be direct to, directly, to say everything with anger, there is a big step. Very much in line with the previous case, the angry customer with the world is someone hostile, which while we can understand that a customer doesn’t always have to be happy that we are serving them, we must calm us down a bit. You cannot enjoy a good service or product if you are already reluctant.

      9. Client conflict avoidance

      We go from the angry customer to the world who is directly afraid to face it. The client who avoids conflict is the one who he doesn’t understand that he has every right to be uncomfortable with what has been offered to him, and so he has to say it. He’s a type of client who tries to be a great client, and worries that we think he looks down on our work. He sees tension where there is none.

      The main problem with this type of client is that they repeatedly approve of everything we have presented to them, making us believe that the project is going in the direction they want. His innate fear of saying ‘no’ means that when things are very far along he can’t take it anymore and tells us that not everything we have done is convincing him. Hello he said! We have invested a lot of time and resources for nothing, making us start all over again.

      10. Rude customer

      Customers won’t be our friends, but it’s always nice to feel like they’re giving us good vibes. A client who is very, very difficult to work with ends up being a nasty client.

      We don’t care about the money he gives us, if it’s not comfortable working with him it’s not worth it. It could be because of the way he talks, his superior looks, his words with a certain sarcasm, the bad taste jokes he makes, or the jokes that cause us to have bad “vibes.”

      11. Client without obligation

      In any professional relationship, there is a first step that cannot be avoided: making contact. In this first contact, the client and the professional talk about what is offered, what is sought, what the services look like and whether or not there is an intention to establish a professional relationship. This first step, once overcome, involves two paths: either the relationship continues, the project begins, or it ends because the client cannot receive what he wants.

      The problem for uncompromising clients is that they choose a third path: not to sever the relationship but not to consolidate it. These are the ones who keep consulting the same thing over and over again, or disguising it as a new question to consult, but basically, we’ve said that before. They constantly make us waste money by offering free consultations instead of offering the product / service that we are experts in. We are not a free service. If you want the product / service offered, you pay for it all at once.

      12. Expert client in bargaining

      The expert negotiating client is the one who thinks that, really, in order to do our job, we’re going to give them a particular discount or some kind of offer. He’s the one trying to sneak in, which makes you very nervous.

      His view on any economic transaction is that some lose and others win, instead of understanding that both those who receive the money and those who receive the product / service make a profit. The prices are what they are, And unless it is a market sale, they must be adhered to.


      These 12 types of toxic clients are the most common that can be found in any profession. As we have seen, there are all kinds and for each condition, so you have to be very careful and know how to adapt to each of them. The diversity of toxic customers is also synonymous with various problems, which we do not want for our business.

      Set limits, specifying the prices of the product or service offeredGiving the occasional touch to avoid nasty comments towards our profession and making it clear when each goal is achieved are strategies to prevent clients from ultimately destroying the business.

      Bibliographical references:

      • Blythe, Jim (2008). Basic Marketing Aspects (4th ed.). Pearson Education. ISBN 978-0-273-71736-2.
      • Frain, John (1999). Customers and customer buying behavior. Introduction to Marketing (4th ed.). Cengage Learning EMEA. ISBN 978-1-86152-147-7.

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