What are the best kinds of clients? Repeat clients, of course. And the best way to make sure they keep coming back is to give them a great impression of you and your business, by making sure they have the best experience possible while working with you. Below are some suggestions for making every project a smooth-sailing one.
1. Put a good project management practice in place.
It’s all about how you set up your business – the entire client lifecycle matters, from their first impression all the way until their payment is deposited. This means that you’ll need to make sure your business is set up— behind the scenes— to help each customer, larger or small, flow through your process smoothly. Things like informational gathering forms on your website, to email recaps after conversations, to discussing and setting policies from the get go, will leave no room for surprises. Make sure you follow the same set of procedures each time you have a new project, and after a few times, it’ll become second nature.
It’s also a good idea to use a project management tool such as Trello or Asana or even just G-Suite, to keep track of everything you have going on. The benefit of keeping things in the cloud is that no matter if you’re in front of your computer or on the go, you’ll have access to important client information when you need it.
2. Set expectations for how you work, ahead of time.
It’s important to make sure that each client knows your policies, up front. Do you expect payment in full before you begin? Do you bill incrementally? Do you only accept cash? Do you limit the number of revisions? Are you only available certain times?
When clients know the details about how you’ll work together, they’ll be more apt to adhere to your policies without question. If they begin to overstep their boundaries and you feel they’re taking advantage, be sure to confront the issue immediately with a reference to your client contract, which should clearly state your policies.
You can also set expectations along the way. Each time you communicate with them, whether it be on email, phone, or text, be sure to recap your conversation and communicate any deadlines and intentions clearly. If something is taking longer than expected, be sure to ask for an extension. If something didn’t take as long as expected, send it early (and then you’ll really be the superstar!)
3. Take good notes and recap in writing.
Miscommunication is always a troublemaker. As soon as something becomes unclear, or someone is confused, the proverbial sh*t can hit the fan. I find that taking good notes on each and every call or at meetings is exponentially helpful in making sure that both sides clearly understand what was mutually agreed upon, and what the next steps are. One of the best phrases for this is: “What I heard you say is that X, Y, Z, and next steps would be to X, Y and Z.” It’s crystal clear, concise and works in almost every type of communication.
4. Ask for deadlines.
You heard that right, be sure to ASK your client to set a deadline for the project.. Here’s why. When you have a task on your to-do list, with no deadline, or even just an ASAP attached to it, what happens? Yep, it gets pushed to the bottom of the list. Asking for a deadline, even just one that is arbitrary, helps actually get the work done. And that keeps everyone happy.
5. Be overly communicative.
Difficult clients need extra attention. But with some simple hand-holding, you can assure that your difficult client is no more. Overly communicate with them. Follow up after 24 hours if you haven’t heard from them. If you’re starting work on their project, let them know you’re starting, as just send a note to say you will reach out if you have any questions, and when they can expect to see a draft. Even if this seems like it’s overkill, your client will feel like they’re getting good service, and they’ll likely give you repeat business in the future.
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