There will come a point where you and a client won’t see eye to eye, no matter how well intentioned you are.
Clashes with clients
If you’re finding yourself about to respond to an email that rubs you the wrong way, consider holding off for at least 24 hours.
While it may be tempting to dash off an email right away because you’d like to deal with it promptly or because you feel empassioned in the heat of the moment, hold off for 24 hours. Do write a draft email, but don’t send it until the next day.
Re-reading the original email again the next day may not provoke the same reaction in you, and chances are you’ll be relieved that you didn’t send your response from the night before.
The same principle applies to an email that discusses a mistake that you made or an embarrasing oversight that you missed.
When faced with your mistake, don’t overreact and over-compensate. For example, if a client emails to let you know that you’ve overlooked a major part of the project, you may feel embarrased and promise them a complete revision free of charge to make up for it.
But I guarantee that you’ll be kicking yourself for agreeing to do work for free to make up for your embarrasment. Once the initial sting is over, you’ll realize that everyone makes mistakes and there’s no need to promise the moon as a result. Admit your mistake and rectify it, but don’t overreact.
It’s wise to set a policy for yourself that emails don’t always need to be responded to right away–especially if they’re sensitive issues.
Managing client behaviour is one of the most complex parts of consulting. The good news is that you’ll learn best practices along the way, and your list of happy clients will keep growing.
The principle of wait-before-you-send applies to good news emails, too. Before sending an email, consider how you can revise your message to add value to your client. Can you suggest further improvements to the project? How about a second phase of the project that expands on the first phase? Like any written project, a delay and a second edit always improve the message.
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