If you have invested time and dedication to build a client base for your freelancing business it is important to make sure that those hours are not wasted by building client loyalty. Repeat business means less time spent chasing after new contracts and more time spent billing.
As a freelancer you know that client loyalty can be elusive at times. Here are a few insider tips for building long-term relationships with your existing client base.
Exceed the Client’s Expectations
Make a promise to your client and then deliver more than is expected. Everybody likes to receive a bonus, so throw in something unexpected. For example, if the project description calls for a letter, sales copy, and email marketing series, add a little something extra like a teaser for the pre-launch of the product you are writing about.
Tell the client how much you appreciate their business and that they are free to use the bonus copy any way they want to. The client will remember that you went above and beyond what was agreed to and will most likely return to do business with you in the future. This is a great way to build client loyalty because it shows that you are not “cheap with your time.”
Schedule with a Safety Net
Although delivering a project on time and as promised is a well known practice for building client loyalty, there are always unexpected situations that crop up when you run a freelancing business. All freelancers experience glitches in a current project that they are working on (e.g.the client is behind schedule in reviewing the milestone work for their own reasons).
When you work out the details of the project with your client, schedule with a safety net in mind. For example, if you receive a project that you think will take one week to complete, schedule two weeks time to provide yourself with sufficient latitude in the event something comes up. If you finish the project early then it will be to your credit because you will have under promised and over delivered.
Individualize Your Service
As you discuss projects with your clients make note of anything they share with you such as something they recently achieved, recent family activities, birthdays, or any other information that they voluntarily disclosed. The next time you talk with your client you can add a personal touch to the conversation, as opposed to limiting yourself to only business matters.
Individualizing your service makes the client feel like you care about their needs and will make you more approachable. It also shows the client that you enjoy interacting with them.
Avoid Selling Your Services
If you want to build client loyalty it is important to remember that they do not like to be sold. Instead, provide your client with new ideas and solutions that are relevant to their current situation. Focus on the necessities instead of the “extras” that are not essential.
If you focus on the issues that are at the top of your client’s priority list the client will know that you are looking out for their best interests and will be more enclined to choose to work with you again. So instead of pushing for “extras” you should focus on the services that are truly relevant to your client’s priorities at the moment.
Reach Out to Your Clients
Establish a method for creating ongoing communication with your clients. Creating ongoing visibility with your client base will encourage repeat business and client loyalty. You want your clients to know that you are there should they need your services.
Offer something to your clients that is valuable and useful to their business. For example, you could create a free email newsletter that is chocked full of useful tips. If the information that you provide is useful this will build ongoing trust between you and your clients. Hopefully, they will begin to see you as the “go to” person for the particular freelancing service that you offer.
Once the project completed, follow-up with the client to make sure he or she is satisfied with the end result.
Client loyalty doesn’t come easy or without effort. With practice and experience however, it can be your best asset going forward.
by John Sylo