Providing Good Client Service
As a freelancer, clients are your lifeblood. You can produce the best work, but it will 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 them happy, not only will they bring more business to you in the future, you also put yourself way ahead of the competition.
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 think that you aren’t invested in working with them.
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. If you have a design process in place, you should have already done your research and have a good idea on what they are looking for. Be sure to ask open ended questions to help you gain an even deeper insight into the client and their business. With such knowledge in hand, you can then tailor your services to meet as many of the client’s needs 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 more projects. In addition, they are more likely to refer you to their peers.
Having a good network will allow you to further meet the client’s needs. For example, you are working with a business on a branding project, and they are looking to revamp their website. It so happens that you know of a talented web developer. By setting them up, you are effectively creating more value for both parties.
See also: Establishing Your Creative Network
As you can see, there are many ways to make sure the client’s needs are met; in return, they will remain loyal to you 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 probably spread the word around and dissuade their peers from using your services. In short, good or bad service will have long-lasting effects on your reputation as a 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 help 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. If you let your pride get in the way and choose to argue with them, not only will that disrupt the design process, you will also likely to lose 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. It’s your job to explain your actions and decisions to them, while guiding them as best as possible through the whole process. Here’s where you establish yourself as a true professional and improve your reputation as a graphic designer.
GOOD COMMUNICATION IS IMPORTANT
Similarly, good client service is about striving for quality and letting the client know you are doing so. As such, you should regularly 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 if the client is unhappy with the product, and always do your best to communicate with them.
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, email and a video conferencing tool like Skype should be enough to meet the client’s needs.
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 the client. Also, a call is much better than an email when it comes to resolving any disputes; both parties will be able to discuss issues and 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.
BE RESPONSIVE AND TIMELY
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 deadlines are met. It also gives them peace of mind and conveys your professionalism.
In the end, freelancing is about building good relationships. In order to succeed, you have to put the client first and meet their needs a timely and effective manner. And if you deliver good work at fair prices, then clients will be loyal to you simply because you bring so much value to their businesses.