Nothing is more essential to a successful enterprise than repeat business. Every satisfied customer allows your brand to be passed around by word of mouth potentially creating a snowball effect that could be the difference between the long-term sustainability of your enterprise, or it ending up being a fleeting experiment. Referrals are your best friends and a one dissatisfied could spell the end of your business and is to be avoided at all costs.
Whether you’re a web developer, digital media consultant, graphic designer, or content creator, the clients that come looking for your services will bring with them some level of expectation, and it’s your job to manage those expectations. Below are 5 handy tips and tricks designed to help you navigate the mind of your client, understand their demands, and keep them and their friends knocking on your door.
1) Get to know what they know – No matter what a client might come to you for, if you know what they know about what you do, it changes the level of expectation. Some clients might have an in depth understanding about what it takes for you to do your job and some might be completely clueless and the key to maintaining customer satisfaction in either case is the level of sensitivity with which you handle each. It should be clear by the terminology they use when they speak to you, or how they respond to any questions you ask, so just be mindful.
2) Know what you’re capable of – Nothing upsets the balance of someone’s expectations more than being given false information. If you design websites and a client has come to you saying they need their site to go live in 24 hours, sometimes it’s better to risk losing the client rather than promise them that it can be done and risk not completing the work. No matter how much extra effort you might put into getting it done, the chances are your client won’t be sympathetic to your plight. They are under pressure too and all they’re likely to remember was that the work wasn’t completed when you said it would be.
3) Don’t be afraid to involve your clients – Some clients might not have the faintest idea of what’s involved behind the scenes of a good marketing video, but everyone who’s in charge of a project appreciates having their ego stroked. The more decisions they make, or the more they see of themselves, there is an increased likelihood they’ll take ownership of the project and value the work you did alongside them. However, remember that there’s a fine line here – some clients are just too busy to be bothered, and some can become so involved that it compromises the quality of the project.
4) Be available – The work has to get done but it’s not advisable to turn the ringer off on your phone – ever! The service you provide is meant to be a direct response to what a client has in their mind and the work has to get done in the spaces between them communicating to you exactly what that is. Every fragment might prove useful in you being able to deliver on their wildest imagination and should not be ignored. A client will remember every time that they tried to reach you and were unable to because it was time that they set aside, time they thought was important, and time they eventually wasted. Time is money, and they can give theirs to someone who will offer them the time they need.
5) Let someone else disappoint them – It’s time for a reality check – you’re not the only one who does what you do. Out there in the world is someone who others can go to for the exact service that you provide, and it’s likely you’re not the only one they’ve called. It’s also not uncommon to find a prospective client that simply has completely unrealistic expectations, and there comes a point where it’s imperative to stand your ground on an issue (work load, deadlines, rate of pay, etc.) because the integrity of your business will be at stake. A prospective client might simply hire the cheapest option around and don’t be afraid to let them. The chances are likely that they won’t be happy with the work that got done and will go somewhere else the next time. Be sure that if they do finally come around to you, and not simply the cheapest option available, that you do deliver the value you promise.