There are times during your freelancing career where things haven’t gone so well. Maybe the client didn’t like your drafts even once you revised the design over and over again, or lack of communication caused unnecessary delays in the project. Well, whatever it is, a freelancer needs to learn how to deal with client dissatisfaction when the time comes.
There are numerous ways you can go about this issue, and there’s no one right answer. Generally speaking, you need to ensure that you try to nullify the negative effects a bad client can have – such as diminishing referrals from other people.
One way in which you can do this is to refer the client to another freelancer who you think may be able to cater for their needs. Because the said client isn’t really happy with you, you need to appear helpful even once the project has fallen through – this will reduce the negativity of the client.
Another step you could take would be to offer some sort of monetary refund. I don’t recommend you do this all the time though, as the time you spent on a project needs to be paid for. The best way to proceed is to get the client’s down-payment, deduct your payment (calculating using how many hours you spent on the project) and refund the rest to the client. 99% of the time, down-payments are non-refundable and so the client may feel a bit better about the situation. Make sure though that you don’t get bullied into giving full refunds or partial refunds which leave you more or less nothing for your work – clients can sometimes take advantage of freelancers like this, and I’ve personally seen it happen all too often.
Also, even if the client doesn’t want the work you’ve produced thus far, give them the work anyway. It may turn out that later down the line they change their mind and decide to go with your work, or build on it on a later date. Anyhow, the client is entitled to receive the work (even if it’s in an unfinished state) that they’ve paid for so far.
Finally, offer them a little guidance on their project to help them take it forward. Sometimes, a client is dissatisfied because you weren’t able to produce what they had in mind, but what they had in mind was unclear and not well communicated to you. Help them clarify exactly what they’re after, so when it comes to hiring another person, you save them some hassle.
Remember, one bad client can mean a lot of lost potential business, and it should be part of your marketing strategy and work ethic to make every client you service as happy as humanly possible – because it’s the best way to get repeat business and referrals. Always work towards providing your service on-time, and communicate regularly with updates so your client is clued in with what’s going on. If you’ve delayed a project because of other work, instead of leaving the client in the dark, tell them. It’s better they know and expect the work later, than discover on the day of the deadline that you haven’t been able to produce the work.
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