Getting new customers is much more expensive (in time, effort and resources) than keeping existing ones. So, wouldn’t it be much more beneficial if you worked on building existing clients’ loyalty, rather than taking them as a start and end link and then starting over again from scratch in making new ones?
Clients who are satisfied with your work and attitude will not hesitate to hire you back. Having a sustainable customer base will be key to your business success, isn’t that the case with companies?
Think of any large, medium or small company name, and the strategy is always the same: retain your customers and make them loyal to your brand.
As a freelancer you also have your own business, and your goal will be to increase your income and boost growth based on a solid portfolio of stable customers.
Here are 10 tips to help you build client loyalty
Guarantee quality work within the agreed deadline
A satisfied client returns. This is the essential premise on which the following will be based. The resources you can use to manage your day-to-day work are diverse. As a reference, be sure to read How to comply with deadlines and Tips for organizing your own time.
Show passion and commitment
The client does not expect anything less than to see a professional involved in their work, dedicated and committed to the project. Enthusiasm spreads. Seeing you with their “T-shirt on” (that is to say, playing for the same team) will let your clients know that you really care about their business and this will encourage them to keep you around even more.
Clients will value much more that you are honest and speak with the truth, than to commit yourself to something that you will not be able to fulfill later. Be honest in every instance, and if it is necessary to say “no”, do not hesitate. It is best to make the points clear from the beginning in order to avoid any mismatches or unexpected results. The client will appreciate your honesty.
Apply your listening skills
Establish a round trip communication. Be a good listener. Learn how to negotiate, to objectively analyse situations and to make the most of them for both parties. It is key that clients feel listened to and that you are aware of their needs and expectations.
Apply your knowledge wisely, manage yourself with respect and cordiality, be consistent with your words, respect the agreed conditions, adapt to the client’s schedule, aim for excellence in your work. Clients are looking for serious and competent partners.
Generate added value
Beyond the specific task you have to do, always add value to your work. The client will appreciate that you can go “a little further” than what you were originally hired to do (always within certain limits, of course). Creative suggestions? More logo options than you were originally asked to do? A new approach to the news story? Find a way to let the client know that you are involved with the project and that you feel part of it.
Don’t wait for the client to tell you step by step what to do. Anticipate the facts, gain autonomy. Suggests solutions. Apply your macro vision. If you’re in doubt, ask. It’s super positive that the customer sees you in action, being independent. The client has hired a professional who knows exactly how to do his job and how to do his best.
Foster interpersonal relationships
Put yourself in the clients’ shoes and treat them the way you would like to be treated. Always have a relationship based on respect and listening. Earn the client’s confidence, showing your professional skills, but also as a human being.
Answer to emails
Be sure to let clients know that you are there. Even if it is only to send them a confirmation that you’ve received that email, do not stop answering. Even more so when we know that the majority of client-freelancer communications today are merely remote and that there is no “face-to-face” instance through meetings.
Keep in touch with your past clients
It’s always good to be in touch even with clients you’re not currently working with. Try to inform them about your work situation and projects you are facing now. It’s a way to stay “there” and reminding them of you.
The means of communication you can use today are very varied (email, Skype, IM, social networks, etc.). Find the one that best suits your needs
It may take you months to earn a new client. Then, focus on taking care of the present ones, generating trust, establishing good communication and showing the value of your work.
What other tips do you think are essential to building client loyalty?