My main problems at work boil down to clients telling me what they want me to do, instead of telling me what they want to happen. They contact us with a list of demands already laid out - Move the 'Add To Cart' button. Make the design cleaner. Put a carousel on the homepage. Make the logo bigger. What's happening here is they see a problem in their business and have decided on what they think the "obvious" solution is, so they're price shopping for a pair of hands they can remote control via phone/email.
In reality they're just throwing shit against the wall, and pointing out changes that would make them "feel" better in the hopes that after they are made the bottom line will improve. This frustrates me because in a lot of cases the changes they want are pointless and a waste of my time and their money. If the client could let go of their preconceived "fixes", and instead tell us about what outcome they are searching for - "I need more hits", "Increase my conversion rate" - it can open up a wide range of solutions they never knew existed.
When a potential client calls with a list of demands, we ask them "Why?" What are you trying to accomplish with these changes? What event sparked you to call? We want to know your motivation because you yourself might not even see what the problems are. We're trying to learn what you don't know. Why do you think you need more social buttons? Because you think it'll somehow increase sales? Because your pet competitor did it? The problem is you don't know what you don't know. Everyone thinks they know all there is about their business and interprets things through that prism, but adding a pair of fresh eyes can help you find the unknowns that you are missing. I'll stop before this turns into a Donald Rumsfeld answer, you get the drift.
We care enough to investigate what your problem is, because if you know the problem, and the motivation, only then can you come up with a solution that's custom tailored to the client and their project. Different clients who claim to have the same problem on the surface, may require different solutions because their goals are different. Our questions allow us to learn that they have different timelines ("I have a trade show in 2 weeks!" vs. "My busy season isn't until the holidays"), different thoughts on branding (a white label reseller vs. a luxury brand), different financial restraints (Fugazi vs. Jay-Z*). All see themselves as having problems (Jay-Z more than others), but their actual needs are different. One might get a quick website rescue, the other might be better served with an entire redesign with new strategy and branding. As a philosopher once said, "What might be right for you, might not be right for some."
*Given recent developments, maybe this should instead be Dr. Dre