When A Client Doesn’t Like Your Work

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Its can be difficult enough to complete a project off the top of your head. So when you get it back with demands attached and a client who is giving you attitude, its natural to get a little defensive. But its not always the smartest thing to do as a professional.

This article caters to situations when youve really done all you couldlike when a client says Just write my websiteits about Topic A and you can research that on the Web, or I like pink and black, make a logo out of that. Its geared towards circumstances when the client says, Youre the professional, I trust your judgment, and doesnt give you a lot to go on, despite all of your prodding for more information.

Despite not giving you a good foundation, Ive found that some clients in this situation can get a little uneasy. Even though your work may have been great, their expectations were somewhere else so no matter what you do, itll never measure up. There are times when the client really has nowhere firm to stand because he or she has left you without information, so its vital not to just take the heatbut to stand up for yourself and take charge of the situation, moving the project onward and upward (even if the customer has gone a little sour!)

When youve given it your all and your client is putting you in a pinch, what can you do? Take a breath and keep coolIve got some tips to help you diplomatically explain your actions and avoid a temper flare at the same time.

Dont rub in their faultat first.While its okay sometimes to point out that they gave you little information to go on and previously said it was okay to start and youd go from there, its important not to lash back. If and when you do, its best to do so politely. But not in the beginning of the conversationthe beginning is for listening, understanding the clients perspective and then using your skills to get the client back on track.

Explain the processand that this is a process. When the client says something like I just dont like it, you have to tell them that a normal part of the editing process is to get their input and youll need specifics. Its better not to say, Well, what dont you like? but to lead them into detail-giving with something like, Okay so lets start with the headline. Do you feel the tone is too conversational? Do you want to tell me in laymans terms the tone that youre going for? Are there any marketing collateral pieces youve seen that have a tone closer to what you want? I think grilling them is essential, especially since youve explained that youre going to need their input and how vital it is.

To be honest, sometimes youve got to speak to people like theyre five years old, minus the coddling tone.

Get down to details. To be honest, sometimes youve got to speak to people like theyre five years old, minus the coddling tone. Upfront, I tell my clients that its perfectly normal not to always be pleased with the first draft. But I need specific information to get things as they want them to be. I let them know that I will work to get it just right, but I need them to sit down and think about what they specifically like and dont like, and give me examples (if need be) of similar projects they do like. (In my case, I have them tell me in laymans terms what tone they want, or I advise them to show me a marketing piece with a writing style they like.)

I always try to get as specific as possible and have learned to prod even if they continue to give me simple I just dont like it answers. I toss the ball in their court. Okay, I understand. So help me make it better and let me know what specifically you dont like about it? Why dont we start at the intro paragraph?

Toss in the past. If that client is still moaning and wailing over spilled milk, you can consider putting up more of a boundarybut do tread with caution. While I dont believe the customer is always right, I do believe you should never burn bridges. This is where you can mention that you didnt have a lot of information going in (not so much as a defense but as an excuse), and how they said it was alright to go ahead anyway.

You could say something like, I know we didnt have a lot of background going into this, but now that we have a first draft, can you offer anymore information to help me get a better feel for what youre looking for? Again, explain things in baby tone without the baby talk (i.e. This may not be what you really wanted, but its a strong start despite not having much to go on. Lets figure out where youd like to go from here to get this juuuuust right for you.) I really only remind a client of that after Ive explained the editing process and offered to fix things and they dont sound happy. I try not to start getting tit-for-tat over things or bringing in the dreaded, Well you never gave me much to start with.

Inject some lightheartedness. This hasnt happened to me outwardly, but I get the Youre the writer, you know best vibe a lot. The truth is that I may know bestbut the client has to be happy with it in the end, so my opinion really doesnt matter unless its requested. Since many customers may toss this thought your way, its in good taste to reply by stating that while youre good at the visual interpretation (if youre a designer, for example), they really know what look in an image they want best.

Replying with something like, I can design whatever youd like, but I want it to really represent your company the way you want it done. So Im going to need your input on this. Do you think we should take this line out?

Remember that some people may just want to put you down. Try to move them away from criticizing to giving you constructive criticism. The key is to facilitate moving forward, even if a client only wants to look back.

Author: Kristen Fischer
Source: http://freelanceswitch.com/clients/when-a-client-doesnt-like-your-work/

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