As a Freelance designer you are bound to at one point in time to come across a troublesome client. There are know-it-all clients, the low-tech clients, the day-late clients, the easy-job clients and many more. Regardless what their nature may be, they exist and seem to come by all too often. Learning how to communicate with these clients can drastically change the outcome of your everyday productivity as well as your overall success.
Above All, Communication is Key
1. Start With a Fresh Slate
Carrying an attitude with clients is quickly going to ruin your career. Every time you approach a discussion, email, or call from a client you should do so with a good attitude and a positive mindset. Working with a bad attitude is only going to produce bad results and further fuel the flames. Don’t add to the fire.
2. Read Between the Lines
When a client asks you to make the logo larger could they really mean they would like a stronger branding presence? Be sure to completely understand what your client is requesting before jumping to conclusions. Ask respectful questions and get to the bottom of what the client is really looking for.
3. Keep a Level Head
A lot of times you will receive an email, message, or phone call from a client that seems to be a little pushy or assertive. Take a step back and realize that this may have come off the wrong way, perhaps because the client is not familiar with industry linguistics they do not know how to effectively communicate with us without sounding somewhat bossy or even idiotic at times.
4. Learn to Renegotiate
As a project progresses clients can tend to get more involved and in a result often ask for things out of the scope of the original project. Rather than doing the work for nothing (and becoming ticked in return) or refusing to do the additional work altogether learn to renegotiate the contract. This will eliminate frustration on both sides and hopefully increase the overall efficiency of the project.
5. Communicate with Purpose
Try your best not to get in the habit of shooting off quick messages looking for answers. In return you’ll get quick answers that are not thought out which may carry back-and-forth, eating away at time you could have saved by sending one detailed message. Make it your goal to only send messages with some medium and detail.
6.Alway Pick Your Battles
Putting up a fight is important in ensuring that you clients are getting the best possible results. Pick the battles that will win the war and learn to take the hit on the others. This may take some practice in figuring out exactly what to figure with each client but once you do figure it out it will make your life easier.
7. Provide Support to Decisions
If a client is a little weary or questioning one of your decisions back it up with proven examples, case studies, or performance metrics. Clients will question you from time to time and it’s only to ensure they are really getting the best possible website. Be ready and willing to provide support behind your decisions.
8. Put it in Writing
Most people work best when they have something to reference or fall back on. Keeping all of the discussions in writing not only helps freelancers stay on track but also allows them to reference previous discussions if any questions arise. Whenever you talk to a client over the phone or meet to go over the project. Send them an email recapping your discussion. They will appreciate the summary and it will allow you to stay organized.
9. Interrogate the Client
When push comes to shove and you are truly struggling with a client interrogate them to find out what they are genuinely looking for. Do it tastefully and do your best to really get the client thinking. The harder they think the better they are at being able to express what they have in mind.
10. Never Stop Communicating
Always keep the communication line open between you and the client. Keeping them in the loop and allowing them to ask questions will ensure them that you are doing your best work and ultimately care about their project. In the end they will be in a better mood and you will be able to sleep better at night knowing your client is happy.
One last thing just to contradict this entire post. If clients are calling you three or four times daily, perhaps more just for updates on the work, then kindly tell them that you will contact them in time. There is no need to be help up by pointless phone conversations that only impede your productivity.