Dealing with Difficult Clients
Dealing with difficult clients can be the bane of a freelance worker’s existence because freelancer’s look after every aspect of their businesses themselves. There is unfortunately no one to delegate difficult clients too. But freelancing needn’t become a misery simply because some clients are more difficult than others. Instead, freelancers should always remain professional when working with clients, keep a paper trail of all communication with clients, ask for clients’ feedback at the end of each project and respectfully end business associations with those clients deemed too difficult to work with.
Remaining Professional With ClientsWhether you are dealing with dream clients or difficult clients, remaining professional throughout is one of the prime responsibilities of those who are freelancing. Not only are you expected to provide a service as a freelancer, but you are also expected to provide good customer service. This can mean everything from smiling when you don’t feel like it to saying “thank you” when it isn’t truly required to keeping your voice at a polite, professional level and tone at all times. If you find it hard to remain professional when faced with difficult clients they you might consider taking a business etiquette course or even a customer service class to find out more tricks of the trade.
Keeping A Paper Trail Of Client CommunicationWhen you work with a client you will undoubtedly keep a paper trail of your project, but this is of the utmost importance when dealing with a difficult client. Even if you have a telephone conversation with this client, summarise the major points in an email so that you have some written documentation for future use as needed. This can be particularly helpful when it comes to dealing with clients who change their minds frequently, don’t seem to remember the terms of your contract or don’t feel that they have to follow the agreements that the two of you have come to. Often when they see it in black and white difficult clients are more likely to “give in” on a particular topic.
Ask For Clients’ FeedbackEven difficult clients deserve to review your work as a freelancer, so when you finish a project and the last bill has been paid, ask for your client’s feedback. Send out a brief survey and include return postage. You may find that the difficult client had concerns or problems that you didn’t even realise, or you may find that their expectations were wildly out of line with the agreement that you had together. Either way it can be valuable to find out more about your client before deciding if you will work with him or her again in the future.
Ending Business Associations With Difficult ClientsSome clients are simply too difficult to continue working with. If at all possible, finish your project with them and then cut them loose after you receive your payment. You can do this either directly, by informing them that you will no longer be able to take on new work with them, or informally by simply being too busy when they have new projects for you. However, resist the temptation to be anything less than professional as there is no reason for you to tarnish your own reputation with a less-than-stellar end to your business association.
Dealing with difficult clients is never fun. Freelancers can make it a little bit easier on themselves, however, by remaining professional with their clients, keeping a paper trail of communication with their clients, asking for clients’ feedback after all projects and respectfully ending all business associations with clients.