How To Handle Difficult Clients

Most clients are easy as pie, but you will run into a difficult client, though rarely.  This is just part of the business world. 

However, even difficult clients can be worked with, you just have to have the right tools.  Below are some tricks to handling difficult clients:

Be specific and keep track.  Make sure that you are clear in your responsibilities and the client’s goals for the project.  Ask any relevant questions.  It is optimal to have the job details in writing. 

This way, any discrepancies can be handled accordingly.  Make sure that you completely understand the requirements of the job before you accept the contract. 

Always keep track of communication with the client, whether it’s a paper trail or an email thread, just cover yourself.  It is always nice to have a point of reference.

Keep the client informed.  Sometimes a difficult client is really just anxious, nervous, or completely unfamiliar with how the freelance world operates.  

Make sure to have open communication and be patient with your client.  Sometimes you may have to walk them through the process, we all like being informed. 

Just think about how apprehensive we are to get a new barber/hairdresser…the client is trusting you with their business. That means it is their business to know. Take the time to communicate progress to your client.

Be proactive.  Raise any obstacles you have encountered or issues you are having with the project, as soon as possible.  The earlier you communicate with the client, the better chance you have of resolving the problem. 

Show the client that you are genuinely trying to successfully complete their project.  If you cannot complete something, let them know why, and provide documentation or clearly explain the issue to them.  The sooner, the better.

Put yourself in the client’s shoes.  Listen to your clients requests and make it your mission to complete the project to the best of your ability. 

Your writing is your business, your reputation.  It also is the client’s livelihood.  Be understanding, empathetic, and patient.  It could be possible that they are just having a bad day.  We are all human, after all.

Know when to walk away.  Some clients can just be plain mean.  There’s something to be said for the expression, you can’t win them all. You really just can’t please everybody all the time. 

Writing is not easy, that’s why everybody can’t do it. You may not always be able to capture what the client wants and sometimes they just may have unrealistic expectations.

Kill them with kindness.  It is almost impossible to be mean to somebody that is overly nice.  The more difficult the client, the more ridiculously nice you should be to them.

If they eventually don’t catch on, they probably aren’t the type of client that you want to work with anyway.  Sometimes all a difficult person needs is somebody to be nice to them.  Simply being nice could change their whole day, you never know.

Adapt to the client.  Find the mode of communication that your client likes best: Skype, email, phone, job board, etc. and then go out of your way to use it when you communicate with them.

This shows that you are invested in your client and that you value their preferences.  Don’t be afraid to download and learn new software.  Even challenging clients can be a learning experience.  Sometimes they pay well too!

Never lose your cool.  You have a reputation to maintain.  A difficult client will eventually build a reputation of their own.  Don’t let them degrade your reputation. Don’t let them get the best of you. 

You are a professional and have a business to run.  Never allow a client to push you over the edge, especially if you use a written message-based platform.  Always cut off communication before the relationship reaches that point.

Freelance writers experience so many challenges and difficult clients are on the list.  Even tough clients can become good clients and prove to be prosperous.  All it takes is a little TLC to turn a difficult client around. 

Just showing that you care and are serious about the project goes a long way.  Remember to always put yourself in somebody else’s shoes.

 

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