Ethics of communication with customers

We all switched to freelancing, including in order to work for the soul, with love, and in a good mood. But that’s ideal. In practice, cooperation with different customers is not always pleasant and cloudless. And last but not least, it depends on the manner of communication. Based on my own experience, I will try to highlight a few important points that you should pay attention to if you want to successfully and with minimal emotional cost do what you love.

Surely many of you had to choose a customer “with your heart”. You read the text of the project: the task is set clearly, the budget is excellent, and the deadlines are not for yesterday, but the essence of the project is set out in language on the verge of rudeness. All these “Write the word “cat” in the application”, “Pass by if you have not memorized “Write, shorten”, “Stop cooperation after the second typo”. And you do not make a bet, as it becomes clear that the work will cost nerves, and the entire fee will go to sedative.

The client thinks the same thing: with approximately equal portfolios, reviews, professional skills, and expectations for payment, he will choose a freelancer whose communication style impresses him. And after working with him once, he will come back again. And it’s not about the content, it’s about the form. What is the optimal style of communication with customers?

You or you

This is perhaps the main stumbling block in communicating with customers. Today, the appeal to “you” on the Internet has become almost the norm, sometimes “you” can even offend a person. But don’t confuse social media commentary and working relationships. It seems to me that with an informal style it is more difficult to build a serious working relationship, although at first glance it may seem the opposite. Agree that “Catherine, please add a block with statistics to the article” sounds clearer and more specific than “Kaaaat, there is something wrong with numbers in the text, do something, eh”.

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I prefer to start communicating on “you”, but I adjust if the customer turns to “you”. Although this is not always easy. For example, once I came to a team formed long before me in the “Megaplan”, where everyone communicated freely, and I had to force myself to “poke” strangers. But it’s better than continuing to implicitly communicate in “you” and be known as an eccentric or even arrogant person.

Business or democratic style

In what manner is it better to communicate with the customer – official or more relaxed? On the one hand, too dry communication can give the impression that you are boring and incapable of creativity (although maybe just look at me in action?). And too informal – “make” you a non-serious schoolboy. I always try to focus on the style of the client, but not to go too far so that it does not look unnatural.

If you are not sure how you will be perceived, just be honest, sincere, and friendly, show that you are a person, not a robot. It is also always better to avoid the emotional coloring of messages, metaphors, hyperbole, and details of personal life.

Bad: Right now I can not take your order, I am busy for the most part (I am sending my mother abroad (children to the camp), will you wait a couple of days?
Good: At the moment I’m a little busy with another project, if the deadlines aren’t on, I’d love to take on your task from Monday.

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But it is desirable to use professional jargon – this will show that you are well versed in the topic. Of course, if that’s the case.

Silence is not gold

A freelancer who reads messages but is silent, late, or not responding at all seems to be saying without words: I do not need all your orders, I already feel good. If you succumb to the temptation to wait a couple of hours with an answer in order to stuff yourself with a price, to collect your thoughts, the customer will see this as a lack of your interest. And contact someone whose Freelancehunt profile is marked “replies within 10 minutes.”

Therefore, I try to follow the rules:

  • Always respond to customers who are knocking on the door with projects that are not suitable for me. I refer to employment or tell it like it is. Perhaps this client will contact me again, but with a different order, since the contact, in fact, took place (many write so – thanks for the answer).
  • Report that you have received TK, links and other materials, even if the customer did not ask to unsubscribe about the receipt.
  • If we agree that I start work, for example, in a week, on this day I “compare hours”: I make sure that the client’s plans have not changed. Suddenly, he changed his mind about ordering texts, and forgot to tell me.
  • Answering questions like “What’s the way things are with the text?” or my favorite “How are the successes?” as I work on the project. Although sometimes I perceive it as distrust or an attempt at control.
  • If I do not have time to submit the text, I inform in advance, and not after the fact.
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I do not react, perhaps, only to rudeness, frankly inadequate proposals, spam, etc.

Emoticons – for friends

Instant messengers are the main channel of communication with customers for most freelancers, it is convenient and fast. But sometimes it’s tempting to put it with an emoji. I try to limit myself to a cheerful or sad “face”, and in an email and at all – one bracket. To the question of whether the text will be ready on time, it is better to respond with a text message than with a sticker with a cat Grampi or Oleg Vinnik. Although, if the customer “nods”, “waves” or “puts alike”, I can respond with the same emoji, we do not have official correspondence with the Queen of England.

Brevity for mutual understanding

The ability to succinctly formulate a question and answer will tell you that you value time – both your own and the customers. Of course, this does not concern the stage when you discuss the details of the project, in this case, it is better to ask again than to misunderstand something. But even here it is better to write a structured text than another “War and Peace”. I do not describe how I plan to fulfill the order unless the customer asks for it – he hires me just to get the result, and not a headache and the basics of my profession.

Perhaps, in the concept of “ethics of communication,” you can also include some personalization. For example, I try to write the name of the customer more often – this shows interest on my part. I also congratulate customers on big holidays like New Year’s Eve or wish them good May holidays. In fact, for fruitful and calm work with customers, the usual mutual respect is enough.


Written by Shubham

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