Doing the Little Things to Please Clients
Posted August 19, 2010 in How-To, Managing Clients
Read any post on this site and you’ll find a million dos and don’ts of how to treat clients and how to go the extra mile to please them.
In my experience, I’ve noticed something strange–clients are more likely to notice the little extra things you do for them than the big ones.
I’ve always been a strong supporter of not doing any spec work and I always charge the client for work outside of the contract. But, we can offer our clients other little extras that they’ll appreciate just as much.
So what are some little things you can offer your clients?
Smile in Your Conversations
I prefer to speak with my clients through email. Unfortunately though, it’s tough to convey your personality or mood through email. What may sound normal and business-like to you might come out as terse and short to them.
I’ve found that by simply including a few smilies and making sure I’m in a good mood while typing has really made a difference in the way the client perceives my communications.
Potential clients who email me often feel at ease with me after only a few emails. The more comfortable you can make your clients feel; the more likely they’ll be to come to you with more work. Often the reason clients choose freelancers over agencies is because they receive more personal attention.
Delivery Early…Every Time
I normally promise my clients a delivery date of one week from the scheduled date. Then I try to deliver one or two days ahead of time. Clients appreciate the fast services they receive and it gives them some extra time for content and revisions before launch.
If I feel the project is going to take two weeks, I promise it in three. Not only does this cover you in case something goes wrong with the project, but it makes you a superstar in their eyes when you deliver early.
The other day I blew up a website. Apparently, my client made several changes to the CSS live, which I didn’t realize at the time, and I didn’t download the newest version before making changes to it. By the time I realized that I lost all of his work, I was away from the office in a several hour appointment.
As soon as I got home, I gave my client a call and spent 30 minutes letting him walk me through the site so I can replace everything I messed up.
Instead of arguing with the client or putting off the fixes until it was convenient for me, I apologized first thing and cheerfully made the fixes.
Clients know you’re human and that you’ll make mistakes from time to time. It’s how you handle the mistakes, however, that determine whether you’ll have a happy or angry client.
Answer Emails Promptly
Most clients are on somewhat of a deadline and hate waiting two or three days for an email reply. On the other hand, if you’re a busy freelancer it can get tough to answer them quickly.
What I try to do is answer all time sensitive emails as soon as I get to the office in the morning and then I answer the rest in the evening after work. This helps you not to lose productivity, but still allows you to reply promptly to clients.
Take Extra Time
Not all clients are good clients who deserve a ton of extra time from us. But, those who are great ones, do. I love working with several of my clients and never get frustrated when they ask for help, advice or even a small coding change. Normally, I’d charge for most of these kinds of services, but not for these clients.
A good way to reward your favorite clients and let them know how much you appreciate them is to just be there. Make sure when they have a problem or potential project in mind, you’re the first person they think of. These clients are hard to find and you want to make sure you don’t lose them.
Let Them Know ASAP
One of the biggest pet peeves clients have with freelancers is the bad habit of not telling a client as soon as a problem arises.
When I’m quoting a project, if there’s something I’m not sure of how it can be coded, or it can be done in the exact way the clients wants it , I’ll let them know that upfront. After all, it’s tough to know exactly how something will be coded until you actually try to code it.
If it turns out something can’t be done, I let the client know as soon as possible, instead of waiting until the end of the project. This is a courtesy that many freelancers forget to offer, and it allows the client enough time to think of an alternative plan.
Forgive, Smile, Do…
We’ve all read horror stories about clients. But, clients are people too and they can make mistakes just like we can. It’s easy to get angry or offensive when a client changes course in the middle of a project or forgets to give you important material until the end.
If it’s a large change, then by all means charge for it since it’s out of spec. But, if it’s something that would take less than five minutes, let them know it’s no problem to change it. They’ll be happy to know they’re not inconveniencing you, Plus you seem like a hero.
Scratch Each Other’s Backs
One of my all-time favorite clients is working on a cool personal project and wants me to code it. Since it’s a personal project and not one for his clients (he’s an agency), he’ll be paying for it out of his own pocket.
This client has donated a lot to my own personal projects, so I want to pay them back. I’ll probably end up doing the project for my lowest fee, even though it’s a very large site and would normally cost much, much more.
Freelancing isn’t always about making money and sometimes it’s just as important to make relationships. Doing small thing for clients shows you really care and they’ll often return the favor. I’ve even had clients pay me an extra $50 or $100 just for being so helpful!
What are some of the extra little things you’ve done for clients?
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