How To Handle Difficult Clients

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August 18, 2017

There’s a harsh truth to freelancing and contracting: Not all your clients are going to be easy to deal with. In fact, a few are guaranteed to be downright challenging. Some will never seem fully satisfied, whilst others will make the payment process a negative experience in every way. This is simply the way of the world, but problematic people needn’t hamper your business. All you need to do is understand how to handle difficult clients.

If you have a client who is prone to being uncommunicative, unhelpful, or even unhinged, these are a few of the things you can do to comfortably catch any curveball they might throw your way.

Keep calm

We appreciate this isn’t easy, especially if the client comes at you with their claws out or your frustration has reached boiling point. But learning how to remain calm in these situations is imperative for a healthy outcome.

If you receive a sour email or message, walk away from your computer, leave your mobile on the desk, take some deep breaths, and go for a quick walk before you start bashing imaginary ants on your keyboard in reply. This will allow you to compose yourself and respond with the kind of level-headedness that puts you back in control.

Ask for their side of the story

It’s easy to curse a client who hasn’t paid when they promised to do so. But sometimes, it genuinely isn’t their fault. Life happens.

By asking your client for their side of the story, you’ll come across as reasonable and balanced – and this is key to preventing things from escalating into hostile territory. Drop them a line to check in and say you just wanted to see if everything is ok. If they are experiencing an issue, they’ll appreciate your patience and concern – which is likely to come back to you in a good way in the future.

Do your bit

Some clients prefer a particular communication method, whereas others won’t want to repeat any information they might have already told you. Do your bit to show the client you’re taking active steps to appease them. This can include catering for their communication preferences (e.g. installing a specific app) and storing every file they send you into a carefully labelled folder. This way, you’ll make things easier for yourself and give your client fewer reasons to make life difficult.

Learn from the experience

If you do have to go through an unpleasant experience with a client, don’t stuff the memory to the back of your brain. Remember it and learn from it so you don’t make the same mistakes again.

For example, if you didn’t have a contract in place and bickering ensued over rates, make sure you never go ahead with another long-term job without getting the client to put pen to paper first. A written agreement offers you both peace of mind, as well as a rulebook to refer to if any problems ever arise.

You can’t completely control how your clients behave. However, you can maintain a firm grasp on your finances with a specialist freelancer/contract accountant in your corner. Bright Ideas Accountancy can keep all your numbers shipshape and shiny, leaving you to focus on mastering client communication. Get in touch today on 0161 951 5308 or to learn what we can do for you.

How to handle difficult clients


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