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How to Deal with Difficult Clients

This blog is by professional editor Jenny Holt.

How to Deal with Difficult Clients in Translation and Proofreading

Clients are demi-gods when you’re working as a service provider online. Although the acquisition of a customer online is cheaper than acquiring a client offline, the disconnected nature of the Internet can amplify certain negative personality traits. A client who is likely to be agreeable in person can become difficult online because he or she is not speaking to your face. The issue of individuals appearing aggressive online has been broached by several publications including the BBC and the WSJ. The general feeling is that the Internet forms a barrier that somehow reduces interaction with a person, and substitutes this communication with an inanimate object such as a phone or a computer. Regardless of the reason, confrontational clients cannot be avoided online. What are some of the ways through which to handle them?

Be Civil and Be Polite

No matter how rude or confrontational a client is, you must always be civil and polite. This is as much for the benefit of your client as your own peace of mind. Treating all customers with respect, even when it’s hard to do so, forces you to become resilient. The chances are that the client will calm down and business will carry on as it should. Reacting with anger only worsens the situation.

Acknowledge but Don’t Accept

It is okay to acknowledge the client’s complaint. However, there are some clients who only want to gain your attention. As a translator or proofreader, communication is a tool of the trade. Giving the person an audience is the first step to opening communication that can lead to resolving the matter. Acknowledging the matter doesn’t equal accepting the complaint. You should only let it be known that it needs attention. The ideal situation would be acknowledging the matter to diffuse the anger then steer the conversation towards a mutually agreeable solution.

Learn to Identify the Cause of the Difficulty

Working online is a tough balancing act; you have to take the good and manage the bad. But sometimes there is only so much that you can do. Learning to recognize situations that you cannot resolve will save you time and emotional distress. When the cause of the problem is something like personalities clashing, acknowledge this fast and let the client move on to another person. At times, you will be better off without that client.

Define the Outcomes Clearly

Defining the outcomes clearly helps you take control of the situation by giving you justification for how you have done the translation or proofreading. The goal is to ensure that the client provides clear expectations and that you meet all of the expectations. Should conflict come up, you can refer the customer to the outcomes and demonstrate that you have done your part.