Building a successful freelance business depends on happy clients. If your clients are happy, they’ll stick around, hire you for repeat business and even recommend you to their network.
Your business will grow organically and your professional reputation will flourish. While the quality of your work is first and foremost in building a loyal client-base, learning how to deliver results and make their lives easier is a sure-fire route to success. After all, they’re incredibly busy people, particularly those running start-ups or small businesses. They want to know that you’ll get on with the job, with minimum input required.
Here’s some ways you can lighten the load:
Everyone has different preferences in how they like to communicate, receive information and make decisions. So, find out how you can change your approach to suit your client’s preferred style of working. Are they an email or phone person? Do they like short, sharp messages, or prefer lots of detail? You can try to garner some information in your initial chats with them, as well as looking out for clues as your relationship develops.
There is no greater problem-solver in client relationships than regular communication. It doesn’t need to be time-consuming, but try to check in at least every couple of days with a quick update on what you’re up to, any ideas you’ve had and flagging potential issues. Radio silence can be hugely disconcerting for clients, and it’s worse still if they then have to chase you up on activity. So, stay visible. A weekly catch-up call can also be valuable to make sure you both know what’s what.
It can be easy to forget sometimes, but clients usually have a whole raft of other projects and tricky stakeholders on their plate, as well as the one you’re working on. And while you might be impatient to chivvy your own campaign along, there’s probably a good reason for any hold ups. So, take an interest in your client’s other challenges, to better understand their perspective, as well as find out how you might be able to help. You might even get some extra work (and budget) out of it!
Nobody likes surprises, so always stay one step ahead, anticipating and mitigating for any potential hiccups in advance. The best way to do this is to create a detailed work-back plan of activity for the entire project you’re working on, breaking it down into its constituent parts and activities. It takes a bit of time investment at the outset of a project, but it helps you predict what you’ll need to think about and any issues involved at each stage of the campaign.
PR campaigns invariably come up against unforeseen obstacles and hiccups, but the most important thing is how you deal with them. The key is never to inform your client about a problem, without also suggesting how it can be solved. Even if that means coming to them with a range of options for them to make a final decision, you’ll avoid a panic and make their life infinitely easier.
One of the reasons businesses love working with freelancers is their ability to push projects along, with little support required. So, don’t be shy about taking a project or campaign and running with it, using your initiative to achieve the objectives and deliver the results the client is looking for.
In case you hadn’t heard, email is the new snail mail. Now it’s all about maximising productivity with online tools such as Slack, for messaging, Trello, for managing your actions and projects, and of course Google Docs for collaboration on documents. Lots of clients, particularly start-ups, prefer to use these to more traditional Microsoft office tools, so find out how you can get involved. And of course, The Work Crowd, is the only online tool you need for managing your freelance projects and invoicing.
Simple but effective; be realistic about what you can deliver by when, and make sure you hit your deadlines. Whenever you agree to a piece of work, check what timescale the client is working to and be honest about your ability to meet their requirements. And if you absolutely have to miss your deadline due to unforeseen circumstances, let the client know as soon as possible so that they can factor it in. Find out how to better juggle your priorities in our blog on how to be a time management ninja.
Incorporate these into your freelance routine and managing your client relationships will be a breeze! And you can read more about keeping clients happy in our blog on tricky client issues and how to cope.