As freelancers and digital entrepreneurs, it’s important that we leave clients satisfied with our work. Not only does it open the door for future projects, but it expands our network of possible referrals. And considering most projects come from referrals, I’d say that’s pretty important. But doing a good job isn’t enough. If you really want your clients to love your work enough to endorse you to their friend, you’ve really got to have that WOW factor. It’s the thing that will keep you at the forefront of their mind and excited to tell all their friends about your work. It goes beyond your design abilities and extends into your human abilities. How well can you connect with others? Can you bring them a sense of calm? Does your authority of knowledge instill confidence and trust? Have you really taken the time to build a relationship, or do you only see them as a potential for income. People can spot insincerity a mile away. The key to keep clients happy lies in sincerely implementing the following tips. Remember, it's about building real relationships and connections... Because that - in turn - will help you land new clients and make more money. After all, it’s all about who you know.
So, how many of you designers out there have spent so long on a project that you kinda forgot the real world existed? It can happen. Maybe it’s happened to you. Relationship building, like most things in life, requires practice. Clients often feel anxious when talking to technical people. They don’t understand exactly what you do, and if you aren’t a skilled communicator, you won’t be able to tell them. So, take a few moments at the beginning to break the ice. Just have small talk. Build a rapport on a human-to-human level. It’ll put their nerves at ease, and may even help with your own social anxiety. This casual conversation at the beginning of meetings may seem useless. But it’s a key aspect of forming a real connection with your client. (And that, my friends, is how you win repeat business and referrals.)
It’s great that you’re fluid in languages like CSS & HTML, but talking to clients requires you to learn a whole new language. Namely, their business goals. Truly understanding what they want to achieve will direct your design better than anything else. And it provides the perfect anchor for all design decisions. When you feel a client entering scope creep territory, the only thing you need to ground them back to reality is speaking their language. They may not care that adding that new functionality will create X amount more work for you and delay launch by 3 weeks. But they would care if that new functionality will delay launch by 3 weeks, which would reduce your projected revenue increase this year by X%. Now you’re speaking their language. When you can speak to their goals, their challenges and their desire, you’ll create a much more lasting impression. Years ago, I read a quote that said: You can make more friends in 2 months getting interested in other people than you can in 2 years trying to get others interested in you. That definitely holds true here.
This weekend, I read the book Made to Stick. In it, there’s this concept called The Curse of Knowledge. And it speaks to the struggle we have to simplify the complex knowledge we work in on a regular basis. The Curse, in essence, is our inability to remember how it felt to not know what we were talking about. And that - in turn - hinders our ability to effectively empathize and communicate. As a web designer, it’s easy to get lost in the technicalities of it all. It’s important to remember that your client may not understand what you’re talking about. And that’s okay. That’s why you’re there. Speak to them in terms they understand and simplify your technical speak into metaphors and proverbs they can understand.
I love email. It’s the main way I chat with clients and potential leads. But email can’t replicate the power of a phone call, video chat or face-to-face meeting. When I first started freelancing, I felt terrified of a phone calls. But I soon realized how important they were for client communication, satisfaction and retention. These days, sales calls and client meetings are some of my most favorite things. It’s not a matter of banning email, or even feeling like email is bad. But the relationship you can build with a client can mean the difference between success and failure. So, take your relationship to the next level and hop on a phone call this week. Every client has their own nuances that makes them unique, which is why no two projects are exactly alike. Building a real relationship means understanding them on a deeper level than a potential income source. Which of these tips can you implement to build better relationships with clients? I’d love to hear your thoughts in the comments below!