“The buck stops here.”
It happens to the best of us. The worst happens. Despite our diligence and best efforts to produce quality work for our clients to move them forward in their goals, and in their business, someone is displeased. Sometimes even pissed. Sometimes unreasonably so.
Though there is great validity to the expression, “You can’t please everybody,” having satisfied clients often translates into repeat business, and glowing testimonials that can garner new clients as well.
According to Ignitionapp.com: “Difficult clients are part of the cost of doing business. Most often, they’re difficult because they’re unhappy with the service you’ve provided. Sometimes, they could simply have a personality that clashes with your company values, or they have expectations that are way out of whack with reality. Sometimes, they are simply a bit too odd.”
Whatever the root of the problem, it behooves freelance business owners, from a strategic (and moral) standpoint to work through these disagreements for a mutually satisfying resolution and positive client relations. Unlike bigger establishments with different departments and gatekeepers, the buck stops with us.
Full disclosure here: In my many, many years of operating a freelance business, complaints have been as rare as a unicorn! And, there’s a good reason. I love what I do. And I want my clients to love it, too. Not to brag here, but I have won numerous service awards and industry commendations for my level of excellence and ethics.
But, before we get into how to turn these negative situations around, for informational purposes, let’s examine the 3 basic types of disgruntled clients you are likely to encounter in your business:
This is in no particular order:
1). THE “EAGER BEAVER” – WANTS EVERYTHING DONE…YESTERDAY WITH OUT ANY REGARD FOR OTHER CLIENTS, YOUR NEED FOR SLEEP, BOUNDARIES, ETC.
2). THE “SOMETHING FOR NOTHING” CLIENT – INSISTS ON GETTING AS MANY FREEBIES, DISCOUNTS, AND ADD-ON SERVICES AS POSSIBLE WITHOUT ADDITIONAL COST TO THEM
3). THE “UNREALISTIC CLIENT” – WANTS YOU TO GUARANTEE THAT YOUR SERVICES WILL YIELD THOUSANDS OF BOOK SALES AND LATE NIGHT TV SHOW BOOKINGS
Now that you know who they are, here’s what you need to know to deal with them effectively.
TIPS TO MOVE FORWARD AND MAINTAIN PEACE AND PROFITABILITY
1. Approach things with the right attitude.
Before becoming defensive, when there is a complaint or request for a refund, get all the details. Dig deep. Was the nature of the error or oversight due to unclear directions? Timing? Unrealistic expectations? Or, perhaps someone you subcontracted to for part of the project dropped the ball. Either way, there is great validity to the expression “those who fail to learn from the past are destined to repeat it.” Learn so you can continue to earn.
Even if you don’t fully understand or agree with the client’s position, if you did err, it’s important to let them know that you want them to have a positive and productive experience while working together. Accountability is a crucial step to restoring confidence.
3. Avoid arguments.
It’s rarely considered “professional” to engage in verbal warfare with someone who hires you for professional services. Keep calm. Stay focused on solving the problem. You’re not trying out for the debate team. Be the bigger person.
4. Ask how you can remedy the situation to their satisfaction.
Sometimes rectifying the situation and maintaining good client relations can be achieved through simply offering a discount; or a future credit; or a free gift. You never know until you ask.
Follow these four strategies for greater peace and profitability in 2022. I’m sure you’ll find that conflict resolution is an important skill set to have for all your relationships.
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JENNIFER BROWN BANKS is a content creator, editor and award-winning blogger. To learn more writing tips and tools, visit her site at PENANDPROSPER.BLOGSPOT.COM
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