Hello friends! Usually on Fridays, I offer some great links for the weekend but today I wanted to share some tips on building client relationships. On this week’s episode of the podcast, we talked all about building client relationships in-depth. We covered so many good topics and resources so be sure to go back and listen to the episode. I wanted to follow-up because client relationships are the blood of service-based businesses.
Before you even get an inquiry, you should be prepared for one-on-one client engagement. Whether your sales point of contact is yourself or an employee, everyone should be well equipped to go through the process as efficiently as possible. We talked about responding promptly and that is something that can only be done when you’re adequately prepared for the process. There are a few things you can use to help with preparation:
- Templates: Proposals, pricing sheets, or any documents to help your clients have an in-depth look at your business can be made into templates. This will save you so much time in getting the information together when you receive a new inquiry. Your templates should be so simple to use that anyone in your business would be able to edit them and use them. Don’t over-complicate things. Simplicity is best.
- Canned Email Responses: We talk about these quite often on the show and Melissa shared a more in-depth look at canned email responses in her article about managing your inbox. Gmail offers an amazing plugin that allows you to set up automatic response templates that you can pre-write to cut down response time.
- Extra Resource: Check out Canned Emails, a minimal site with pre-written email templates for you.
One thing that will help your clients feel comfortable in choosing you is having confidence. I know plenty of creatives, especially us introverts, often downplay our talents. You are amazing! Someone contacted you because they truly believe in your work. Here are some ways to help build your business confidence that will help you be better at client relationships:
- Have Confidence in Your Pricing: It’s not easy to ask people for money, especially if you’re starting out. You might go back and forth as you finalize your proposal. Am I asking for too much? More often than not, the answer is no. Know that you have worked hard to charge what you do for your work. Here are some resources for designers and developers that will help you understand how much things actually coast:
- Find a Mentor or a Mastermind Group: The more you’re around others who have as much knowledge as you do, the more you feel comfortable and secure in your knowledge. Being in a Facebook Group or a Mastermind Group that meets weekly are things that are helpful for you. Do things that help you build your confidence so working with clients becomes easier and easier.
Streamline Client Communication
I talk about this quite often everywhere but there is no reason for your inbox to be flooded with client emails if things are done correctly. Setting clear client communication guidelines early on not only allows you more time to work on the project, it ensure your client’s trust in your work. This doesn’t mean you can work without ever speaking to a client. Here are some things you can do to streamline client communication:
- Set Expectations Up-Front: Often, I hear from my peers that their clients are emailing them constantly and more often than not, for no reason. On the opposite hand, I hear clients go missing in the middle of projects only to come back months later. This happened to us quite often in the beginning and we learned quickly why. We weren’t setting expectations with our clients on how communication should happen. There are very simple things you can do to avoid this:
- Set dates for all responses the same way you set dates for deliverables. Feedback due dates have saved us so much time tracking down clients and has allowed us to gain respect from clients for keeping them on track.
- Keep your clients updated. We send weekly updates on all long-term projects so clients know what’s happening. It doesn’t matter how simple or redundant it may feel to you, your clients will appreciate it.
- Use Proper Tools: As we said during the episode, there are too many ways for clients to get in touch. Don’t have your clients text you. Use e-mail or a project management tool that has great client communication tools built in.
Finish with a Bang
There is nothing worse than a project ending with a simple link to a project and instructions. It’s the equivalent of going to the hair salon and not receiving a compliment afterwards from your hair stylist. You should celebrate the end of your projects with your clients. This may just be the end of a project and a payment for you but it’s a milestone for your client. They spent money on something to help make their business better. They have invested in this partnership, probably way more emotionally than you have. Be excited and share that excitement with your clients.
- Create an Project-End Package: Do you know how the big reveal on home improvement shows are usually extremely dramatized and make the home owners feel amazing? Create that for your clients. Send files with thank you documents. Follow up with thank you gifts. Reassure your clients they were amazing throughout the process and share the project on your site and social media. Make your clients feel proud of what they’ve done and help lift them up.
Don’t Forget to Follow Up
It’s easy to forget about your past clients when you get busy with other clients. You could be missing out on future work opportunities just by not checking in on your past clients. You would be surprised at how often clients have the intentions on working on something new but aren’t sure if you’re available. Sometimes clients don’t have the confidence to reach out first so the follow-up helps keeps the lines of communication open.
- Just say hello. Sending an e-mail 3-6 months after the project just to see how your clients are doing shows that you’re interested in them as future clients. You can just pop in and ask how things are going. Even if nothing is happening, it really helps build a healthy relationship.
- Send holiday gifts. I’m big on sending past clients cards during the holidays. It shows we still care about them and want them to keep us in mind.
- Support their endeavors. We love to check in our clients when they have big milestones or do something new. We attend grand openings, parties, and more just to show our support of their brands.
Again, these are just a few ways to really help build client relationships. You will learn from experience or maybe you’re already doing something that I didn’t list here. We want to hear from you!
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