In the freelance community, you cannot keep your clients happy all the time. It is true that work satisfaction should be your top priority, but it is easier said than done. You can never be sure of what may happen the next moment in your life so you can give your freelancer-self some slack.
Talking about such moments, you might come across situations in which unpleasant news is to be delivered to the client. The very thought of doing that brings insecurity and fear because you can never fully predict how your client will react. In fact, you might have had a long-term relationship with your client, but there is no definite way to ascertain human behavior.
Despite all that, there are a few ways which can assist you immensely in handling such situations. These tips do not guarantee absolute avoidance of disagreements and dissatisfaction, but it can alleviate most of the negative effects.
In this article, our fellow readers can get a fair idea of how to communicate bad news to clients. So, let us take a look at 10 of them.
1. Honesty Is The Best Policy
The first and foremost thing to keep in mind is the simplest one: stay honest with your client and you can soften up bad news with less difficulty.
Many times, freelancers panic under the mere apprehension of upsetting the client. Due to this, they beat around the bush, inject lies, and convey tailored information which can do damage in case of discovery.
Stay honest with whatever you tell the client. It could be the most difficult circumstance for you, but it is essential that you say it as it is without weaving it with unnecessary lies.
2. Choose The Right Time
There is always a right time to convey bad news. You must ascertain what time is most comfortable for you and your client—in fact, you should give priority to the time schedule of the client.
It is a debacle to deliver bad news to clients casually. If you want to show that the news affects you as much as it would affect the client, you must deliver it seriously. So, send over an email or give a call, asking for the client’s time to address an issue. While making such a request, do not sound pushy or desperate.
3. Take Responsibility
You were assigned a task and you were expected to perform it satisfactorily. If you fail to accomplish this, then you are responsible.
Circumstances, of course, play a pivotal role and can put unnecessary hurdles in the completion of the project. These circumstances could be avoidable or unavoidable. In case they were avoidable, then it was clearly your responsibility to avert them; in the case of the latter, you are not fully responsible but you should take it up seriously. Address these circumstances with your client, but do not play the blame game.
4. Tone And Language Matter
How you convey the bad news is also material. While you should show that you are upset, do not exaggerate emotions. Clients will easily figure out that you are fooling around and trying to earn a sympathy vote.
Be polite, serious, and concerned while conveying the news. Try being formal, but infused a few personal touches, to give your communication some human appeal which is usually lost in strictly formal conversations.
5. Do Not Go To Extraordinary Lengths
When you explain to the client what the problem was and how it arose, you should try being precise about it. Do not state facts in the form of a story.
For example, your email should contain details in an organized format, preferably in bullet points, and be reasonably long. Your client does not have a lot of time in his hands to read a humongous email which could have been sufficiently abridged.
6. Tell About Your Efforts
Mere communication of problem does not suffice if you do not suggest solutions. You and the client are in this whole situation and should collectively work out a solution. So, it is advised that you come up with solutions, put some efforts of your own into the resolution of the problem (if possible), and involve the feedback of the client.
The news may be bad, but your sincerity can end up making a really good impression on the client.
7. Stay Confident
Confidence plays a key role in strengthening credibility. While delivering bad news, you should be able to do so confidently. Do not hesitate in saying the tough truths and show the client that you will not run away from the problem.
Be straightforward, mindful, and tactful while delivering the bad news.
8. Pay Attention To What The Client Wants Now
Once you have discussed everything with the client, then you might arrive at a solution to be implemented by you. Make sure that you are absolutely clear about what you are supposed to do. Ask your client to send overwritten guidelines in an email for the purpose of reference.
Start working on the problem only after you have fully understood what is required of you. If you have any confusion, clear it out immediately.
9. Regular Consultations
Even though you come out with a plan to undertake effective damage control, you should still keep consulting the client on a regular basis to ensure that you are following the guidelines as they are. Keep the client informed of important details so that there is better handling of issues which may arise.
10. Accept That You Cannot Impress All The Time
Freelancers tend to get upset and discouraged when they fail to accomplish projects the way they should have been. However, it is not possible to fully satisfy your client or ensure that everything goes perfectly fine until the very end.
Accept this truth and learn with experience. With time, you will be able to handle any kind of situation smartly!
It is a big ‘crap’ moment when you have to deliver a bad news to your client. A lot of thoughts come in raging inside your head, leaving you frightened and insecure. However, you should not let emotions sway you away and must calm down to respond better to such situations. These tips we just talked about will help a great deal in this.
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