How to deal with fickle-minded clients

It is important to communicate clearly throughout the project in order to avoid mistakes. (Rawpixel pic)

In a perfect world, every deliverable would be accepted without changes. This may not happen all the time, but there are a few ways to increase the likelihood a client will accept the work without needing to make any changes.

This includes:

  • How a freelancer can best understand and attend to the client’s needs.
  • How effective communication of the objectives and goals of the project helps the freelancer to fulfil the client’s needs.

When one of these pieces of the puzzle falls through, it is important to adapt and optimise delivery at each step of the project.

Miscommunications occur when there is no clearly defined system that allows for supervision and approval of the deliverables, and then changes have to be implemented to the entire project.

But what can be done when the requested changes contradict the initial goals or when the client didn’t explain the project well?

The best solution: Avoid situations where the full project is rejected. Redoing work after the first delivery doesn’t mean one is a bad freelancer or that one is not performing well. What it means is that an optimised work system must be created.

When this happens frequently, it is a sign a step-by-step plan must be created to avoid running into these situations in the future.

Here are a few objectives that can be achieved to avoid having to make constant changes to the finished product:

  • Read the client’s description of the project closely. Identify potentially confusing and inexact objectives and make a list of them.
  • Create a list of questions based on the objectives on your list.
  • Present this list of questions to the client and ask for clear answers, preferably in writing so they can be kept handy and reread it when necessary.
  • Come to an agreement for partial deliveries or deadlines for milestones in the project with a maximum number of changes per milestone.
  • Always ask for approval of the partial delivery before moving onto the next step of the project.
  • Clearly express the number of corrections one will do at once throughout the project, and what the price is for changes once the client has established their limit

It is advisable to make a checklist of these objectives and milestones to clearly mark that each step is being followed with each client.

If the freelancer has made a mistake, it is important to acknowledge it and come to an agreement with the client on how it will be corrected. (Rawpixel pic)

When changes are needed because of a freelancer’s oversight

At times, a freelancer may not understand the client’s instructions and the project takes an unexpected turn. What should be done in these cases?

The mantra “the customer is always right,” is not always true. Customers are human and they are not always right.

But it is important to avoid making errors in one’s performance and service. Keeping a client will depend on how conscientious the freelancer is.

It is important to keep the following in mind:

  • A client who makes a mistake and isn’t willing to admit it is a client that is not worth taking on long term.
  • A client that does not make mistakes, even if the freelancer is the one who made a mistake, but asks for changes guided by what was initially requested is a client who is worth taking on long term.

When a freelancer acknowledges a failure to understand a direction, admits it and rectifies the situation, the client will become a repeat customer because they know one can be trusted.

In these cases, what must be done is:

  • Admit the mistake and provide a response and a solution.
  • Estimate how much time it will take to correct the mistake.
  • Show a good attitude.

If the changes are necessary because of a mistake on the client’s part, always remember that the customer is not always right. It is important to develop an assertive form of effective communication in these cases.

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