Keeping the Right Clients
As your company begins to grow, and you get a larger client base, you might start to measure your success by how many clients to gain per month or per quarter. However is this really a measure of success? And, more importantly, are they the right clients for your business? Yes - there are wrong clients, and there are right clients.
The right clients are the ones that keep coming back for more work and better yet, more high paying work. For example, these are the clients who always want the best from your company and aren't afraid to spend their money with you to achieve this.
The other type of clients are the ones who come back maybe once a year and only want the bare minimum from your business and will haggle over the price of carrying out that work. What they want won't break the bank for them, but it also won't 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 can you do to attract more of the one and less of the other?
Talk to your clients
Communication is key when you are dealing with clients, especially when satisfying the needs of your better clients.
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, inform the client as soon as you know this will have any great impact on what you're delivering to them. 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 have the end result of keeping 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.
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. You could even start following 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.
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, and make a slightly less detailed list of the 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 further feedback.
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.
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 suddenly you're back to square one. Your time has been wasted and your client feels as though you didn't really understand what they were looking for in the first place.
To avoid this disappointment, obtain client feedback at every stage of the process and don't assume that any changes you make will be welcomed with open arms by the client.
There are two types of clients out there, those that want to work with you and are happy to pay for your time; and those that see working with you as a necessary chore. To keep more of the right type of client for you, there is one clear message you should be sending, open and honest communication. If you keep communicating at every stage of the process, your clients will be more likely to want to work with you, rather than see it as a burden they must bare.