So, you’re a freelancer. You get to enjoy working in your pyjamas, making your own schedule, and choosing the types of clients you take on. Congrats! Being a freelancer is not easy, but for many people, it’s worth it.
One tough part about having a freelance business is that you usually have to wear a lot of hats. You don’t have a big corporate budget to work with—all you have is what you earn, so usually, you have to take on multiple roles in your company to ensure everything runs smoothly.
We would call you a superwoman, but you already know that. Perhaps one of the more difficult sides of freelancing is dealing with clients. You don’t have any customer support staff or assistants to handle client communication. It’s all you, all the time.
Sometimes, that means you leave clients on the backburner. As you know, your clients are the lifeblood of your business, and without them, you’d have no business!
How can you make sure you’re keeping your clients happy and coming back for more (or refer you to their contacts)? There are a few client management tips we’ve used in our own businesses that work very well.
The good news is, many clients don’t require a lot of extra effort to stay happy; you just have to be mindful of keeping the relationship positive.
10 Ways to Keep Clients Happy
- Ask for feedback
- Reply to clients on social media
- Be available
- Compliment your client
- Create scope documents for projects
- Send thank-yous
- Don’t miss deadlines
- Update your client regularly
- Invoice on time
Tip 1: Ask For Feedback
When completing a project for a client, don’t hesitate to ask them for feedback via a review or short survey.
When asking, you can explain to your client that getting feedback helps you improve your services so you can serve them better—this will make them more inclined to give you honest reviews.
Of course, it can be tedious asking every client to give you feedback, so we suggest optimizing your time and using an automation tool like Broadly, which will help you get feedback without you even having to lift a finger.
That way, you can show off your awesome client reviews without expending any extra energy trying to collect them. It’s a win-win for both you and the client.
Tip 2: Over-Communicate
You’ve heard it before, but we’ll tell you again: Communication is key. In any relationship, personal or business-related, it is imperative you keep the lines of communication open and clear.
In the client-freelancer relationship, this would mean explicitly communicating some or all of the below:
- Metrics used to measure those goals/objectives
- Communication system during projects
Basically, lay everything on the table. You don’t want to start a project without knowing the rate, what’s expected, and how you’ll work together, and your client probably doesn’t want to either.
Keeping communication very straightforward will help both of you know what’s expected. Clearly outlining these things in writing (via email) will also serve to protect you, later on, should an issue arise—you can just reference the email to back you up.
Tip 3: Be Available
Because you’re a freelancer, chances are your work hours are already a bit wonky compared to the regular 9 to 5ers. Though your abnormal work schedule can be a good thing, you can’t use this as an excuse for clients who are trying to get ahold of you.
It’s your responsibility to be available when a client reaches out to you, especially if you are in the midst of working on their project. Especially if you know that client is on a corporate schedule, you know that they will primarily contact you between regular work hours—keep that in mind and do your best to respond as soon as you can.
If a client does contact you during abnormal hours (even for you)—like, say, 10 p.m. on a Saturday—kindly reply to them and let them know you will handle whatever it is on Monday. It is in both of your best interests to respect one another’s time… especially downtime.
But whatever you do, don’t ignore them! Radio silence is a fast-track to losing clients. Sometimes it’s worth it to coddle a little on off-hours if the client is extremely important to your business.
Sometimes, clients will try to reach you on various platforms. Though it may not be ideal for you, it’s important that you acknowledge all of these forms of communication if you want to keep your past, present, or future clients happy. Basically, this circles back to communication and being available.
Social media can also be utilized to get more clients, but we must caution you if you use this method. A client can easily recommend you to someone else via social media, and it’s in your best interest to have a timely reply—”thanks for thinking of me, Jane!” works great.
However, when sifting through potential new clients who have reached out to you on social media that you do not know, be wary. There has been a 100% increase in fake social media accounts, and a lot of these accounts are used to Phish, or steal your private information.
We recommend bookmarking these online security tips to help you stay vigilant in keeping your business information safe and sound when replying to clients and vetting new ones.
Tip 5: Compliment your client
You may roll your eyes at this one, but nothing gets you places quite like a little flattery. Now, don’t take it the wrong way—you don’t have to pander to your client every day. All you have to do is be aware of what your client is working on and maybe give them some encouragement.
For example, if an artist commissions you to write product copy for an entire collection of theirs, a nice thing to say would be: “The new prints look awesome! Love the colour schemes you chose. Can’t wait to get going on these.”
Especially if the client is another small business owner, you should lift him or her up. Think about how great it feels when a client gushes over your work. Return the favour if it’s honest.
Tip 6: Create scope documents for projects
To help minimize the amount a client “checks in” on you during a project, create a scope document at the beginning. The scope document can cover everything you agreed upon when communicating your goals, objectives, deadlines, etc.
This way, if the client reaches out to you with a redundant question, you can just point back to the scope. Hopefully, though, they will consult the scope document before getting in touch.
The scope document will essentially serve as the outline for both of you so nothing gets forgotten or swept under the rug. It’s all clear what is supposed to be happening in the specified time frame.
Additionally, this kind of organization will impress your client—nobody wants to work with someone who seems completely dishevelled and unreliable. They want professionalism, and scope documents are a perfect way to showcase that.
Tip 7: Send thank-yous
Simple but impactful, a handwritten thank you note via snail mail can really boost your client’s perception of you. Anyone can send a quick email, but if you take the one extra step to handwrite a note and send it through the mail, your client will appreciate the gesture so much more.
When to send a thank-you? Following a completed project is always a good time: “Thank you for choosing to work with me on _____! It’s been wonderful working with you. Please don’t hesitate to get in touch regarding any additional needs in the future.”
You can also use holidays to double as well-wishes and thank-yous. Sending out holiday cards to your clients is a thoughtful gesture that will leave a lasting impression.
People like working with people, and showing you that you care about your clients as humans increase your chances of them wanting to work with you again.
Tip 8: Don’t miss deadlines
This should go without saying. If you promise a client to have something complete by a certain date, you should be fully prepared to deliver that project on or before that date.
It’s not so much the fact that you absolutely can’t turn it in a day late, but it’s a respect thing. If you don’t honour the deadlines you set with your client, how do you think it makes your client feel?
It makes them feel like they aren’t important to you, which will probably make them want to stop working with you.
Every client should feel like your top client, no matter how much they are paying you. A simple way to show appreciation for their business is to get the work done when you say you will.
Reliability is a big part of earning repeat business—if you never deliver on time, why would someone want to work with you again?
Tip 9: Update your client regularly
Depending on what you sussed out about your communication plan during the beginning stages of the project, you should have a good idea about when and how often to update your client on the progress.
However, it never hurts to be extra diligent in keeping them posted. A lot of companies are wary about hiring freelancers because of the lack of commitment to the company compared to in-house employees, so showing them that you’re engaged in their project and want them to be updated is a huge plus.
Tip 10: Invoice on time
Do not wait months after a project has been completed to invoice your client. If they ask you to invoice on a certain schedule (usually the 1st or 15th of the month), you should do your best to stick to that schedule.
Yes, sometimes invoicing is a pain, but don’t you want to get paid? If you wait too long, companies’ budgets can be a lot different than they were when they hired you, and you might have a hard time getting paid for your work.
On the client end, receiving your invoice in a timely manner means they don’t have to mess up their books when you invoice seven months down the road.
Treat your clients like you would want your clients to treat you. If you want to be trusted, then don’t miss deadlines. If you want to establish a long-term relationship, consider taking the extra step to send a card.
Everything always boils down to stellar communication. Working remotely has its perks, but you must keep clear and open communication with your remote clients if you want them to give you repeat business and refer you to others.
Britney Cooper is a world travelling freelancer. She is passionate about entrepreneurship, travel, and technology. When she isn’t writing, you can usually find her out on a hike or trying to book a flight to her next adventure.
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