As a freelancer, entrepreneur or business owner, your main goal is to convert each client into a returning client. It’s much easier to keep your clients than always having to try to find new ones (and cheaper too).
Making sure your clients are completely satisfied is not only a surefire way to keep them coming back, but also a great way to get referrals.
In this post I will share the 4 building blocks of a successful freelancing career which I think can keep your clients coming back. As simple as some may seem, we tend to ignore them and for one very simple reason – they seem so minor that we assume we are already doing them. The thing is we’re human, and sometimes we take things for granted, assume and don’t realize we’re not on the right track.
You Have To Be Reliable
Being reliable is one of the biggest factor that determines whether a client will to do business with you again or not. The saying “the first impression is also the last” holds true in this case. The key here is to provide consistent service every time. Whether a client hires for the first time or the third time doesn’t matter, you have to deliver. Fail to deliver only once and your client will probably hire someone else next time.
A client wants to hire someone who can deliver and keep promises. Whether you put it in writing or you simply have a verbal agreement, your client will expect results. If you want your client to look at you as someone who is reliable make sure you
- deliver on time
- provide great support
- answer any and all questions your client may have
- be quick in replying to e-mails and returning phone calls
- keep your clients updated on how the project is coming along
Although there are hundreds of ways to build reliability for yourself and your business, these things will set the foundation for them. Reliability should be your top priority. You may get a lot of inquiries and leads, but if your clients cannot rely on you, they’ll hire someone else next time. You got only 1 chance to make a positive impression.
Remember, it’s a lot cheaper to keep an existing client than to acquire a new one.
Reliability and credibility go very well together. In fact you gotta have both.
Who would you prefer doing business with a freelancer who is willing to listen to you, who is genuinely interested, asks questions and try his or her best to deliver on time, or somebody who gives you the “I got the payment, it’s your problem now…” stuff?
My money is on the first guy. Every client wants peace of mind and if you can provide this along with whatever expertise and skills you have, you are well on your way to keeping that customer for a long time.
Of course having a signed contract or some sort of agreement can go a long way as not all clients are created equal. :)
Building credibility is actually quite easy: do what you said you would and don’t over-promise. Simple.
Would You Hire Yourself?
Ok, I am pretty sure most of you already have a website up offering your services, highlighting your skills and showcasing your work. I assume you get clients through your website. If this is the case you already know how important your image is.
If you are a web-designer and your portfolio basically looks like crap, I certainly am not going to hire you to design my site. Look at your site, your brochure or whatever promo material you may have and try to look at all this like a potential client would. Ask yourself this question: Would I hire myself?
If you’re not sure, there’s a comment form at the bottom of this post where we can talk about it. :)
The Art Of Replying To Clients – Responsiveness
“Please leave us your name, email address and the reason you are contacting us. We will reply within 24 hours with a free quote for you to take a look at.”
We see this on most services pages or “hire me” pages. You send all your infos and 72 hours later and you have yet to hear from them, so you decide to hire someone else (deja vu?).
Communication is of utmost importance when it comes to acquiring or retaining a client. Be responsive, be quick. Even after you get the gig make sure to keep in contact with your client. Usually 24-48 hours is fine for most clients.
In case that you’re in a rush simply send a quick e-mail to let your client know you haven’t forgot and will reply as soon as possible. There is nothing worse that being left in the dark.
It’s Your Turn Now
Please feel free to add to this post by leaving a comment. You guys always seem to come up with some great ideas and the willingness to share your own experience as a freelancer with me and others is commendable. You guys rock!
Until Next Time,
About the author: Ritu is a freelance writer and blogger, he can be found at Ritu B. Pant.com. He is currently available for work, just drop him a line ;)