Digital Nomad Jobs – Bad clients and how to deal with them.
Every digital nomad freelancer I’ve ever met has a story about a bad client. It could be the control freak client who needs to see everything you are doing every hour of the day, the vague, wispy client who doesn’t really know what they want but expects 5 different versions to look at or the guy that will definitely, absolutely get you paid work after that one free sample he needs to see first. These and everyone in between can cause you hours of stress, annoyance and ultimately cost you money you could otherwise be spending on horribly over priced airline food, continental cheeses or a nice pint.
Whilst these clients are/can be complete b*****ds you needn’t put yourself in the position where you’ll be losing sleep. If you follow a few helpful tips you can (hopefully) avoid too much drama and continue working with them in a positive manner. Failing that tell them to sod off…*
*Probably don’t do that though.
- Keep calm and continue communicating. Communication is key in dealing with a bad client. It may be that this sounds horribly gruesome but it really is the only way the problem will be resolved and everyone is (mildly) satisfied. Try and act in a friendly, professional manner at all times and be as patient as you can, if you get angry and escalate the situation it’s not really going to work out well for you. This doesn’t mean you need to act like a doormat and let the client from hell walk all over you but occasionally you may have to take one on the chin, grit your teeth, think of the money and listen to their inane ideas.
- Solving problems face to face is far more productive than angry email wars. I really dislike speaking on the phone/Skype, maybe you do? Maybe you don’t? Whichever the answer is chances are that you’ve had to do it before in your freelancing career and that you’ll have to do it again your freelancing career. Speaking on the phone or face to face over Skype allows you far more scope to resolve your conflict in one meeting rather than relying on a series of emails. Arranging a meeting this way can help show a client that you are personally interested in them and their problems, hopefully showing them that you are serious about wanting to continue working with them. Before any phone call/Skype meeting takes place make sure you have all the facts relevant fresh in your mind and have a think about any potential questions the client may have.
- Should it be the case, never be afraid to admit you were wrong. You don’t need to go over the top and send an apology card and a gift basket through the post, (unless you’ve properly screwed things up and cost your client lots of money and business, saying that, I’m not sure a basket would do it, maybe 2?) but being honest and admitting you were at fault can save a lot of grief. Playing ignorant, pretending everything is ok and coming up with endless excuses is just going to rile people up and potentially affect any future work you get through freelance sites with ratings systems. Hopefully the client will appreciate your honesty and allow you to rectify the mistake.
- On the flip side to that last point, don’t be afraid to tell the client they are in the wrong, again, no shouting it from the rooftops, sending out press releases and printing t-shirts, a simple, tactful explanation of why you think they are wrong can work wonders. This is a risky strategy and may best only be used on clients you think you know a bit about. Criticisms aren’t everyone’s best friend but hopefully your particular client from hell will understand you want to the best work you can for them and their business and not be to far gone with their own narcissistic ideas that they are blind to help and ideas from you, the professional designer, writer, whatever, digital nomad.
- There comes a time when we all have to say goodbye. Know when that point is and stick to it. Amicably (if possible) end the working relationship and say au revoir. Obviously sorting out any refunds or feedback etc will have to be approached on an individual basis, never sell your self short and admit complete defeat but take a few moments to think about the effect a bad review from this client will have on any future work/earnings. It’s a tricky situation to be in but hopefully it’ll never get this far and everyone you work with/for will be an amazing human being that appreciates your undoubted talent and lets you get on with it as you see fit. Fingers crossed for that!
If you do find yourself in a tricky situation and need a reminder of how the world could be worse have a look at the clients from hell website http://www.clientsfromhell.net/. Hopefully you’ll find someone who you can relate to.
Any tips of your own for dealing with bad clients? Help a fellow nomad out and leave them in the comments below.