As a freelancer, you quickly learn that each of your clients has their own unique needs, styles, ideas, and personalities. You find it to easier to work with some clients and harder to work with others. In this article I want to discuss some of the ways that you can use your own unique style of working with clients, while also allowing your clients to feel comfortable and ultimately satisfied at the end of a project.
Consider your business for a moment. Do you typically let the client describe the project to you, asking them what functionality they want on their website, and allowing them to feel in total control? Or do you prefer to lead the project and provide recommendations to your client without them getting in the way of your ideas? Every freelance web designer works differently – and each designer you ask will have their own personal preference on how to approach a project with a client.
But the question is whether or not your approach is truly satisfying your clients. Are you getting the results you want from your clients, and are they happy enough to tell others about the work that you do? If not, there’s likely something that you’re not doing correctly.
What Clients Need Vs. What They Want
For the most part there is no single right or wrong way to handle a client, although it’s important to realize that certain things will need to happen in order to satisfy them. This is true no matter what line of work that you’re in. In the following article I explain the things that I do to keep my clients satisfied. Although I’m not an official expert at customer service, I’m proud to say that I have all 5-star ratings from my clients on Odesk. I want to share with you how I’m doing it.
1. Your Client Needs To Know They Are Boss
This simply means that when you’re dealing with clients, you want your client to have the final decision on the look of their website or any other type of freelance work that you do.
Notice that I didn’t say that you give the client full control over the project. In most cases, clients will actually prefer you to take most of the control on a project, because they don’t understand the process or techniques required to make the project successful. That’s why they hired you! The idea is to find a balance of control between you and your client, and then make sure that you have some sort of discussion regarding the details before you end your project. Your client will then appreciate your help and also feel like they have a final say in the details of their project.
When it comes to designing websites for my clients, my personal preference is to setup milestones and get feedback from my clients throughout the project.
2. Your Clients Need An Objective, Expert Opinion
When I used to be in sales, I would see many salespeople (including myself) working hard to attract clients in an un-natural way. Instead of listening to their customers, I witnessed salesmen who would try and explain all of the benefits of a product or service in an attempt to get the customer to buy, although they had no clue as to whether or not the client needed the product. The point here is that exaggerating all of the benefits of your project makes you appear weak and unconfident – as opposed to having an honest discussion about your product that helps your client understand how you can help them.
The funny thing is that these types of conversations actually set you apart from the competition! In the case of web design or development, if you’re too busy selling fancy designs or functionality, you might be ignoring other important benefits, such as saving them money by building a website in WordPress instead of starting from a blank HTML template that will take much more time to build. Instead you could tell your client that building a custom website from scratch is a great idea, although building it in WordPress would save them 20 hours of work and still give them 99% of what they want. Of course, there are other situation might require you to build a website from scratch, but the important thing is that you recognize when it’s appropriate and most beneficial for your client.
3. Clients Need To Be Educated
Although most clients have a fairly good idea of industry standards and practices, you sometimes need to educate your clients on these types of things. Clients sometimes have their own ideas as to how their website should look or how their article should be written – although they might not have any clue whether it’s the best choice for their unique needs.
For example, I once had a client that had a very specific interest in adding ethnic/cultural pictures to a motivational speaking/coaching website. I liked her ideas, although the message of the website wan’t being portrayed accurately. When I brought this up to my client, I found that she was much happier in the end because we spent some extra time finding pictures that portrayed her style and also communicated a more accurate message. It may have not been a successful project if we didnt’ have that critical conversation, and she may have re-built the website later anyway with another designer.
Life is too short and projects are way too time-consuming for you not to deliver the best value to your clients. Although delivering quality can take more time up front – you will save more time in the long run by having a conversation when issues arise. Not only will your work life be easier, but you will earn the trust and respect of your clients, which will impact whether or not you get referrals for future projects.
I wish you the best in all of your freelance work – please don’t hestitate to leave a comment.