As a freelancer clients are your lifeblood. You can produce the best work, but it will all be for nothing if your bad attitude and work ethic push clients away.
In order to build a long-lasting business and career, you must focus on building good relationships with your clients — and it all starts with providing good client service. If you are able to keep your clients happy, they will most certainly bring in more business for you in the future.
ALWAYS PROOFREAD YOUR MESSAGES
Good client service begins as soon as a prospective client reaches out to you. First, remember and spell their names correctly — you will be surprised by how many freelancers make that mistake due to a moment of carelessness. It might seem minor, but misspelling a client’s name leaves a bad first impression and makes them feel that you aren’t really invested in working with them.
Next, always proofread your messages before sending them to ensure that there are no spelling mistakes or grammatical errors. A well-written message goes a long way to show your professionalism and reassures the client that they are in good hands.
FOCUS ON THE CLIENT’S NEEDS
From there, get to know the client’s needs inside and out. If you have a design process in place, you should have already done your preliminary research and have a good idea of what the client is looking for. Don’t be afraid to ask questions that will help you gain a deeper insight into the client and their business. With such knowledge in hand, you can then tailor your services to meet the client’s needs as best as possible.
And it’s not just about meeting the bare minimum. Going above and beyond expectations will really make the client sit up and take notice of you. By showing the client that you are invaluable to their business, they will keep coming back to you for their graphic design needs as well as refer you to their peers.
As a bonus, having a well-established professional network can help you meet the client’s needs in other ways. For example, a client you are working with asks if you can recommend someone to code and build their website. It so happens that you know of a talented web developer. By setting them up you are effectively creating more value for all three parties, and it’s likely that the developer will recommend you to their clients down the road.
See also: Establishing Your Creative Network
As you can see, there are many ways to ensure the client’s needs are met. In return, they will remain loyal to your business and bring referrals with them. In fact, the most effective and low-cost form of marketing is through word of mouth. Conversely, if you disrespect a client’s needs they will likely spread the word around and dissuade their peers from using your services. In short, both good and bad client service will have long-lasting effects on your reputation as a freelance graphic designer.
NEVER ARGUE WITH THE CLIENT
Sometimes you might not agree with what the client wants. Comic Sans might look good to them but you know it’s almost certainty a bad idea. In such situations, knowing how to manage client feedback will allow you to work out a compromise. If the client is unhappy, listen to their concerns and see how you can address them in a way that’s satisfactory to both parties.
See also: Managing Client Feedback
It can be hard to control your emotions, but try to understand the client’s circumstances — maybe they are just having a bad day. However, if you let your ego get in the way and choose to argue with them, not only will that disrupt the design process, you might also end up losing their business forever.
In the end, good client service is about patience and understanding. Most clients aren’t familiar with dealing with graphic designers. As such, the design process might confuse and frustrate them, so it’s your job to explain your actions and decisions to them, while guiding them through the whole process as best as possible. Here’s where you establish yourself as a true professional who always strives to put the client’s needs first.
GOOD COMMUNICATION IS IMPORTANT
Good client service is about striving for quality and letting the client know you are doing your best for them. As such, you should keep the client in the loop and be transparent about your actions and decisions. If you promised something to the client then do your best to fulfill that promise. At the same time, don’t be afraid to take responsibility for your mistakes. Be willing to provide revisions or even refunds if the client is unhappy with the work, and always communicate with them as much as possible.
A project is most likely to succeed when there is good communication between both parties. Make it easy for the client to reach you should they require assistance or have a question to ask. For a typical freelancer working online, it’s ideal to have a number of communication tools set up, from an email account to video conferencing software such as Skype or Zoom.
If possible try to schedule at least one voice or video call with the client. Having some form of direct communication is especially important when you are working with clients remotely, and goes a long way to building a solid relationship with them. At the same time, a call is usually much better than an email when it comes to resolving any disputes as both parties will be able to discuss issues and come up with solutions in a more personal manner.
Most clients don’t have the time to hear about how your day is going, so be clear and concise when communicating with them. Always clarify when in doubt — you don’t want to work on assumptions. Be friendly in your conversations and don’t forget to say thank you as often as possible.
A project usually has deadlines in place. If you are able to update the client on the progress of each milestone and deliver your work in a timely fashion, they will definitely trust you with future projects. Similarly, try to return any emails and calls within a day. By responding as soon as possible, you move the project forward and ensure that the deadline is met, which gives the client peace of mind and shows them that you are a professional who can manage your time well.
In the end freelancing is about building good relationships. In order to succeed, you have respect the client and meet their needs a timely and effective manner. If you deliver good work at fair prices, clients will keep coming back to your services simply because you bring so much value to them, which in turn gives you a solid client base to build your business and success on.