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Keeping the Right Clients

Your business is starting to become a success and you have several clients on the books now. However, are they the right clients? Yes - there are wrong clients, and there are right clients.

The right clients (let's call these 'type 1') are the ones that keep coming back for more work and better yet, more high paying work. For example, these are the clients who want the bespoke websites and the bespoke software.

The other type of client (these can be called 'type 2') are the ones who come back maybe once a year and only want an image moved on their website or a different hosting package. Nothing there that will break the bank for them, but nothing that will boost your bank balance either.

These types of clients are there in every business. What a business ideally wants though is to have more of the first type of client and less of the second type. So what do you do?

Talk to them

Communication is key when you are dealing with clients, especially client type 1.

Keep them informed of the work going on with their project. This could be in the form of weekly updates via email or a monthly phone call (if the project's long enough). Don't make them feel as though they're being kept in the dark about anything that's happening.

If a problem arises with the project then inform the client as soon as you know this will have any great impact on the project. This shows the client that you won't shy away from holding responsibility for some errors and that you'll keep them in the loop when necessary.

This can help to gain client trust and will help them to like your customer service, which could, in the end, keep them coming back.

Keep it friendly

Some clients like to know there's an actual person working on their project and not just a mindless robot.

Having a canned response can be a good way of letting a client know that you have seen their email and are going to look into it. However clients can tell if it's a canned response and know that you're either too busy or not interested in reading what they have to say.

"Thank you for your email. I'll look into it and get back to you as soon as possible." is a world away from a response such as "Thank you for your email. I'm glad someone noticed there was a spelling error. I'll get that fixed right away. So sorry it was there."

The second response may seem a little informal when you're running a business, and by all means it may not be the kind of response needed with most businesses. But it allows the client to see that you're human, just like they are. You're also showing enthusiasm for the project and you're empathising that there was a problem there as well as admitting fault for the problem. This can help the clients warm to you as a professional.

Pay attention

Your client wants to know that you're interested in their business and are eager to work with them. In order to demonstrate this you can ask questions during the meeting, read up on them and the work they do and you can follow them on social media. This way you can show an understanding of the business and the industry they're in and you can show that you're willing to learn more information about the business so that you can better tailor the project to suit their needs.

Remember that during meetings with the client, the closer you resemble an internal colleague the closer they'll be willing to work with you.

Be efficient

When you're in a meeting with the client pay attention to what they want and make detailed notes. Also list all of the things that are a must" for the project, make sure that you include all the important details for these, also make a slightly less detailed list of the would be nice to have" items.

After the meeting make a copy of these lists and send them to the client along with any other important details from the meeting. This shows the client that you were paying attention to what was being said and that you know the important parts of the project. This also allows the client to provide you with feedback.

Be reliable

It's easy to exaggerate what you're going to provide the client when you're trying to win them over. You promise them the moon and the stars in order to get the contract. But when you actually win it you discover you can only provide them with a fist sized rock. This leads to your reputation being tarnished and one very unhappy client.

To avoid this, be realistic during the client meeting, guide the client towards what's possible rather than just telling them they can have everything. If the client won't budge on what they're looking for, then they're not the right client for you.

By being reliable and delivering on what the client wants and what's achievable for you you'll win the trust of the client and they'll be more likely to work with you again.

Obtain feedback

You may be progressing with the project at a steady pace and you may be happy with the outcome so far. You show it to the client and they don't like any of it. You're back to square one.

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