Having worked with clients across a wide spectrum of industries, business types and geographical locations for many years, I am often surprised by the fact that when during casual conversations with affiliates and colleagues I still get annoyed when the discussion gets to them complaining about various aspects of their clients requests and expectations.
Fairly often will we hear folks ranting about how hard a client is to deal with, how outrageous some of their requests appear etc…
While we all had our share of working with clients whom communication skills are less than stellar, I believe that throughout the years we have developed a cohesive “support document” that we implement with any client we take on and help us excel beyond any “problematic” situation.
We thought it would be a good idea to share some of those pointers with you as we can guarantee that implementing and following through with them can not only ensure a fun, creative and flowing work environment but will also allow you as a service provider to focus your energy on the actual work that you are meant to deliver and was hired for and go beyond the noise. We believe these can also be helpful from the client’s perspective as we are always also someone’s client.
1. Patience and the value of clear communication
Clients hire us because we are great at what we do and have accumulated a vast amount of highly useful and worthy information that can be beneficial for their business. That does not mean that they know anything about the products and services you provide. Be patient when explaining concepts that are technical and/or a bit complex. In our organization we have a tier based client sharing system that we customize depending on the client and their interest level. Not all information carries the same importance and sometimes not initially sharing specific aspects of your work can keep discussions clear and understandable by all.
2. Create a clear, cohesive proposal right off the gate
We find it extremely beneficial to issue a detailed proposal for all of our projects, whether large or small. This document acts as a contract and details all of the specific services we will be implementing for the project. It is just as important to review with your client that elements that are NOT included or are optional to them. This will ensure that everyone is on the same page in terms of expectations and the scope of the project. Explain the various options available to them, relevant benefits and related costs and offer them your tools and expertise to ensure they are making the right decisions for their business.
Make sure to also include a detailed timeline for the project with specific goals to be completed by specific dates. As revisions are usually part of an online marketing or development project make sure to include in your proposals and estimates a set number of included revision rounds that are available to your client. Lastly review it all in person with the client to make sure that any questions are being addressed early on and to avoid issues down the road.
3. Give your clients specific opportunities for input
Encouraging client input is an important aspect of our creative process. Every problem or issue a client brings to our attention allows us an opportunity to learn, improve and become better at what we do. Keeping specific time points throughout the work process for client input insures that all issues will be addressed, builds client confidence and offers you as the service provider an opportunity to avoid situations where ongoing revision requests and comments are being requested of you. Set a specific time to review the project at different stages with your client and allow an open and honest discussion about it.
4. Be of service and enjoy what you do.
As it’s true for all creative proffesionals we believe that people are best when they do what they love. We love what we do and if you don’t then you may not be in the right business. There’s nothing that brings us more fulfillment than a happy client. In over 14 years in the online development business we have never employed any advertising for our company and pretty much all of our business came from either direct or indirect word of mouth. It’s cost effective to be into what you do !
5. Always remain grateful
You may have a great successful business going on now but at some earlier point, as all of us, you were working hard in order to score that one, first client. It’s very simple – be thankful that you even have clients and that people are interested in hiring you and working with you on their project. do NOT take this for granted. Clients put their trust in us and many times the value of the business they entrust with us can be in the millions. This is not something to be taken lightly. Making sure you incorporate appreciation into everything that you do on an on-going consistent way will elevate your work and will be reflected not only in the quality of services and products you provide but also in the volume of work that your good vibes will summon your way.
We’ve all been at some point frustrated with a certain client or project. We hope these tips help you refocus and re-energize your business and yourself. Thanks for reading!