Tips for Building Strong Client Relationships
What can you do to strengthen client relationships, ensuring that they are happy with your work and ready to hire you again for the next job? Aside from being great at what you do, there are a number of approaches seasoned freelancers and small businesses bring to their relationships with clients that strengthen and prolong them.
Customer service is number one.
You might be a one-person operation, not a corporation with a call center, but customer service is still your number one priority. Most freelancers operate as though a great deliverable is their number one priority, and while it’s certainly important that everything you hand over is high quality, the way you treat a client as a result of the mindset that customer service is key will improve your business for the better.
Know what they know about your field.
It helps to communicate with your client about what you’re producing if you know exactly what their level of knowledge is. A client who is a programmer will more readily understand what you’re doing with your code than a client whose came up an accounting career path. Sometimes, a client who has some but not much experience with your field is a dangerous thing — they send you in inadvisable directions and can be hard to talk off the cliff, and you’ll need to learn how to handle this situation.
Far too much communication between client and contractor comes from unclear communication. Nine out of ten emails or calls end up clarifying what was meant to have been established in previous communications. Always be clear and thorough, but not long-winded. Staying concise helps make the message comprehensible, as long as you don’t sacrifice thoroughness for conciseness, and strong clarity is preferred to polite, flowery wording.
Get to know the company and market.
If you know the company, its history, its management team and its products or services, it’s much easier to make good decisions whether you’re a copywriter, designer, developer, or project manager. If you know the market and the industry even better, you can provide services that give your client the most competitive edge — a trait that’ll have you brought back to the table for the next project instead of your competition.
Ask the right questions.
Freelancers often bemoan the inability of clients to paint a clear picture of what they want, but often that’s why they’re hiring you: they don’t know enough to paint that picture. Despite the inexplicable complaining amongst freelancers, it is their role to discuss the project, draw out the details the client may think unrelated and put together a plan for approval. Know what questions you need to ask to draw out all the details you need before you can start making decisions, and play a role in educating the client where possible. It’ll be easier to work with them next time.
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