We’ve already talked about how to get clients, but what really comes next? What things should we consider when it comes to having a healthy relationship with our clients?
When I was working as an architect, one of my bosses (from whom I learned many things about running a business, in general) told me the following: clients are the only people who can fire us. All this refers to the importance of the supplier-customer relationship, seen from the perspective of a person who is the CEO of his own company, enterprise, etc. After several years of dealing with many types of customers and jobs, I have realized that good practices are more or less the same, so I want to leave you here 3 tips that will help you approach your first customer in an easy and concrete way, and will serve as a basis to cultivate your relationships with them in the long run.
To be professional is not to be distant.
I think we find this very much in the way we manage our written communications: when writing an email, answering a message through our social networks, etc. You have to be professional, yes, but I like to strive where my professionalism is born from my person and I am more than a professional title. When we approach a client from a warm and humane place, I consider that the answers and the relationship goes much better.
I always ask myself this question when I reflect on my “brand voice”: How can my attention be personalized, without going out of the “tone” in which I manage in social media?
The reality is that behind Fabiring, there is only one person: Fabiana. I have decided to sell my brand and my services as an individual effort. And there, part of my personality will undoubtedly be reflected. That’s why I put special effort in the attention I give to the first message I receive from a customer (usually via Instagram), thanking them always for being interested in my work and deciding to contact me. If I’m busy and can’t answer right away, I let you know before I leave the message, which brings me to my next point…
Set up a schedule for your service.
Yes, I know. You’re not a store. You’re probably online all the time and available to everyone. However, it’s not going to make a difference if you send that mail at 2 am. No one will read it, because your customer does sleep. What will happen is that your customer will know that you are available at that time, will assume that you work at any time and will be able to ask you for things outside of your business hours.
Schedule your emails. It’s a wonderful tool that will save you and your client time.
Also, ask yourself the question: would you like to receive an email at 3 AM? I don’t think so.
Explain your process and your times.
In a relationship, communication is super important! It really helps to never assume that a client is familiar with the way you work, how you do it and your timing.
We must teach our clients, patiently, about the way we work. To do this it is always good to coordinate a meeting or video call (because you know… the pandemic), where we can show a project of similar scope (if applicable) and explain the process through a timeline that clearly indicates when you will receive X, when you will have to pay Z and so on.
I recommend you to create a base format for your regular clients, where both of you can track the work done through a database such as Google Sheets, Airtable, etc. Clear accounts, keep … customers 😉
I hope you can apply these tips. I am very fortunate to work with wonderful clients, where I have also given myself the opportunity to learn from them, their processes and tools to enhance my services. In truth, I think it’s time to think that working with them has become more of an alliance than anything else. We designers and any creative in general tend to highlight horrible clients (clients from hell) and their incompetence, but I think we also have to point out that there are good clients, who want to make the best of the best and pay!
Cheer up and go for those customers! I wish you the best.