Has any client ever become unresponsive out of the blue to you? Every freelancer has to go through that at some point in their career, and trust me; it can be a nightmare! Especially after they pay a deposit to get a project started and then disappear!
You are riddled with thoughts like-
Left in a confused state of mind, you weigh your options, wondering what would be the best approach in your situation. There are quite a few things that you can do to get your client to respond, cope with the unresponsiveness mentally, and take precautions in case similar situations appear before you in the future.
This blog is your guide to dealing with unresponsive clients.
P.S. Read till the end of the blog to get your hands on ready to use follow up email to clients that are unresponsive or indecisive
So, they became unresponsive after paying a deposit!
There can be many reasons for your client to become unresponsive after deposit, some coincidental and others that require your attention. Here are some of the reasons why your client might become unresponsive after they commissioned or paid for in advance.
Email clutter is a real thing. When you manage multiple projects or oversee operations, you’re usually a part of every email thread. And it is difficult to catch up with the vast amounts of emails that land in your inbox.
According to Hubspot, it takes around a minute to recover from reading a single email; now imagine hundreds of emails that need to be read and responded to. Your client simply might not have the resources or time to spare.
More often than not, the contact person between you and the client company is at a managerial position and has a tight schedule. In short, they are busy people. I can understand how they can miss an email or two, text, or a follow-up. As a designer, there is not much you can do to clear up their schedule to respond to you.
If the project you are collaborating on is of high priority, they will get back to you, but if they don’t, there is no need to worry as they are probably caught up in a crisis or another project.
Your client could also probably be stuck in making a project related decision. Decision paralysis happens to the best of us. You can reach out to them in such situations and ask them what you can do to help them decide, be it by providing some information or educating them. Your client will appreciate your help.
This way, you and your client are on the same page, and you are a part of what is happening rather than being worried about the delay.
In these situations, your client is probably waiting for an update from their superiors and has nothing new to report to move the project ahead. This is out of your control; all you can do is remind them of the set deadlines and the importance of meeting them.
Do this for your sanity!
An unresponsive client not only causes project delays and stress but can also be mentally draining if you chase them. Here are a few things you can do to cope mentally with unresponsive clients:
I know it can be very frustrating to see your client become unresponsive, especially when you have some time-sensitive deadlines to meet. We tend to imagine the worst that could come out of the situation. Here is the best thing you can do for the sake of your sanity and mental health- Do not overthink and jump to any conclusions. Anything can be causing the delay, and it might not be something to do with you.
We often panic in challenging situations and make snap decisions like- calling the client multiple times or sending emails every few hours. Your client might not appreciate it.
Trust me; you want to avoid that and try to keep yourself calm. You can do that by working on a different project, doing something you like, or even working on a passion project. This will keep you occupied and calm.
You can try to find what is causing the unresponsiveness, is it the email clutter, is the client on holiday, waiting for an update from supervisors, etc. This way, you know where the hold-up is, and you can find a fast-track solution to it.
E.g., If your client is not replying to your emails, you can ring them up at an appropriate time to remind them of the deadlines.
Most of us think that something we did lead to the client becoming unresponsive. But, understand this, your clients have other things to look after, and your project might not be a priority at the point. You can be patient and wait for the client to get back to you in this situation.
When you cannot help in a situation, you should move on to things like working with other clients, looking for prospects, upgrading your skills, etc. This way, you do not waste time waiting around for a client and focus your mind on something productive.
This will get them talking!
This works more often than not. Send something as simple as ‘I am sending an invite for Thursday, February 25 at 4 pm, but let me know if another time works better.’ This works only when the matter at hand needs a discussion; if the task can be completed just by sending in an email, a calendar invite is not helpful.
If you think your client has a clutter of emails leading to your email getting lost, you can try reaching them over any other preferred platform that you have previously communicated on. E.g., Whatsapp, Slack, direct messaging, calls, etc. There is a 90% chance of this working and them getting back to you in a day or two.
If the client has been unresponsive for quite some time and has missed a lot of deadlines leading you to fall behind schedule, you can be direct with them and ask them if they would like to:
By being direct and upfront, you can either find a solution to the problem or stop working with the client altogether. Either way, you move somewhere with the project.
Precaution is better than cure.
Be upfront and firm about essential deadlines that dictate the execution of the project. Let your client know the consequences that the project faces because of missing the deadline. This way, your client can get as serious as you are about it.
Structure every communication that goes from your end so that your client gets exactly what you mean and understands its urgency. Send each email, text or get on a call with some intention and ensure that you get a step in the right direction from this.
It is always a good practice to schedule up the next meeting before ending the current. This way, you do not have to chase your clients for their time, and you ensure that you are on schedule.
Knowing about your client’s working hours can help you communicate better. E.g., If your client had mentioned that their lunchtime is 1 PM, do not text, call, or schedule a meeting during that time.
Knowing your client’s schedule simply helps you to plan better.
If you are someone who finds themselves ghosted by your clients a lot, evaluate your communication. Ask yourself if there is something that is making them unresponsive to you. If yes, fix it.
Set up a generic email workflow that you can later customise in case any clients become unresponsive. These emails are supposed to help you find out why your client is unresponsive. Again, set a clear communication tone to these emails and make them sound as urgent or as laid back as necessary.
Ready to use follow up email template
As promised, here is a ready-to-use workflow of follow up email for an unresponsive client that you can directly use or take as a reference to create your own.
Subject: Following up about < specification here > Hello < First Name>, I hope you are well. I sent you an email about < Specification here > a few days ago, I did not hear back from you. I hope you had the time to review it. I would like to know your thoughts about the same. Please get back to me at your earliest convenience. Regards, < Your Name>
Subject: Important: Update needed to move the project ahead Hello < First Name>, I believe you might have missed a couple of emails about our project < specification here if necessary>. We are behind on our deadlines. I request you to kindly go through to move ahead with the project. Let me know if you need any help with the same. Regards, < Name here>
Subject: Scheduled meeting on the < date here >, < time here> Hello < First Name>, Since I haven’t heard back from you for the past two weeks, I have taken the liberty to schedule a call on the < date here >, < time here>, but let me know if another time works better for you. Please find attached the link for the same. Regards, < Your Name>
Subject: Should we temporarily pause the project? Hello < First Name>, You did not make it to the meeting that was scheduled for yesterday. We are behind on our project by days now and have missed a few critical deadlines. I would like to know the reason behind the lack of communication. And I want to offer you any help that I can provide to move ahead with the project. If you would like to pause the project temporarily, please let me know, we can revisit it at a more convenient time. Regards, < Your Name>
Subject: Let’s stop the project Hello < First Name>, I have been trying to get in touch with you over calls, emails, messages, and a scheduled meeting for the past month. Since you have been unavailable, we will not be moving ahead with the project. We can resume the project provided you have a valid reason for your unresponsiveness and unavailability. You know where to reach me. Regards, < Your Name>
To sum it up
If your client is unresponsive after many texts, emails, calls, there is nothing that you can do to get them to respond. It is best to move on and be better prepared for any similar situations in the future.
Be wise about the people you work with; if your client is consistently unavailable, you can always choose to never work with them again. Work with people who are professional and passionate. By collaborating with them, you can create something amazing together.
How do you deal with unresponsive clients? Any tips appreciated. Comment them down below.
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KK patel is an experienced content marketer with a love for SaaS tech products. W3Dart being his brainchild, KK has always been a proactive problem solver. His tech prowess, combined with his leadership skills, led to the creation of this unique and powerful feedback tool. He KK patel loves exploring different forms of inbound marketing and taking on challenges.