Do you feel like you understand what they need and want? Would you rate your communication with your clients as being excellent? Do you think they would come to you for ideas? Are you the first freelancer that your clients turn to when they need something done?
If you’re like most freelancers, you probably don’t know your clients very well. You do your best to make your clients happy and provide quality work, but your communication is limited to when there is work being done.
Many articles have been written about client relations, but not all of the advice that is out there works all of the time. Every client is different. What works for one client may not work for another. In fact, developing good client relations is more like an art than a science. In this post, we’ll discuss the art of client relations and how you can take some steps to master it.
Client Relations as an Art
Creating an art piece is different from following a recipe. Someone who is following a recipe can usually duplicate the results as long as they use the same type of ingredients. The recipe works the same way every time. In fact, this is true of any proven method. For example, if you follow the directions carefully for changing your car’s battery and use the same quality battery each time, you should get the same results.
In contrast, an artist relies on their creativity and intuition. The results may vary, even if the same artist does several works. Sometimes that artist will succeed in creating a masterpiece. Other times, the artist’s final work will be less than satisfying.
The same thing happens with client relations. A freelancer can treat two clients exactly alike. While one client may be thrilled with the way that a freelancer relates to them, the next client could be very unhappy. Yet, the freelancer has done nothing different.
Freelancers are often handicapped when it comes to creating good client relations. Many of us do most of our work from home. We rarely see our clients face to face and most of our communications are through e-mail. We hope that our clients are happy, but we never have the opportunity to see the expression on their faces or read their body language or hear their tone of voice.
Each client is different, and what makes one happy may not satisfy another. It takes a great deal of creativity and intuition to successfully deal with clients. Yet, with careful determination, it is possible to develop a mastery of client relations.
Steps to Mastering Client Relations
While there are no guarantees that you will get the same result with every client, there are some guidelines you can follow to improve your client relations. Here are several steps you can take:
- Be patient. It can take a lot of time to develop a strong relationship with a client. You will be earning their trust and they will be earning your trust. That trust doesn’t happen overnight. Don’t panic if you aren’t there yet.
- Learn to listen. The most important skill you can have when it comes to customer relations is that of listening. If you deal with clients mostly through email, learn to ask lots of questions to make sure that you fully understand their needs.
- Put yourself in the client’s place. It’s a cliche, but it really works. Think about what you would want and how would feel if you were in the client’s shoes. Don’t deliver anything less to your client.
- Think the best of your client. When something goes wrong between you, it’s tempting to think the worst of your client. Did the client miss a payment? Rather than assuming they are a deadbeat, first give them a chance to make it right. They could have made an honest mistake.
- Be creative. When you interact with the client, think of what you can do that most freelancers wouldn’t. For example, if you can’t meet face to face with a client because of geography, then why not see if you can arrange a video call with your client? Your client will appreciate the effort and you will set yourself apart from other freelancers.
By looking at client relations as an art rather than a set technique or method, you will free yourself from some of the stress associated with following a process that doesn’t really work all of the time. You will also remember to think outside the box when interacting with clients. Finally, your client relations should improve because you will really be meeting your client’s needs.
Have You Mastered The Art of Client Relations?
Are you already a master in the art of client relations? What steps did you take to get there? How have you solved some of your most challenging client relations?
Are you still trying to master this art? What do you struggle with the most?
Why not share some of your experiences in the comments?
Image by arcticpuppy