When you’re a freelancer, the bond you have with your customers is key to building a successful business. Technology writer and author Melanie Pinola said, “Good client relationships aren't just about business, they're about making a connection. As a freelancer, mastering the art of client management can help you build not just a business, but a community.”
Effective client management involves clear communication, setting expectations and handling challenging situations with diplomacy.
Let’s dive into some strategies you can use for managing client relationships and fostering long-lasting partnerships.
This is key to keeping your clients happy.
Not only can it help you to establish trust and ensure you’re both on the same page, but your client will know that you’ll be honest and not just tell them what they want to hear.
Make sure to clearly communicate the scope, timeline and deliverables of the project from the beginning. Use a contract to outline the terms and document any changes to the scope or timeline. This can help prevent misunderstandings later on.
It may sound obvious but talk to your clients.
Make sure to schedule regular check-ins with your client and to listen actively to their needs and concerns. A scheduling tool like Doodle can help you manage how you meet with them easily.
Use a project management tool to stay organized and keep track of deadlines and deliverables. Provide progress updates regularly and make sure to communicate any major changes or issues that arise. This can help ensure your client feels heard and valued.
Handling challenging clients
This can be difficult and unpleasant, but it’s an important part of effective client management.
Make sure to set boundaries at the beginning of the project and to communicate them clearly. If a client is being difficult or unreasonable, try to reframe the conversation and focus on finding a solution that works for both of you. Use diplomacy and tact to navigate difficult situations and don't be afraid to say no if a request is outside the scope of the project or goes against your values.
Fostering long-lasting relationships
Having people you can work with long-term or who keep returning is key to building a successful freelance business.
Make sure to go above and beyond to satisfy your client's needs and offer value-added services that help them achieve their goals. For example, if you have a freelance specialty - use it to your advantage.
Provide exceptional customer service and deliver high-quality work that exceeds their expectations. This can help turn one-time clients into long-term partners who are happy to refer you to others.
To sum up…
Set expectations, communicate clearly, handle challenging situations with diplomacy and be sure to foster relationships with clients.
Developing a plan that incorporates all these points will help you establish a strong reputation in your industry and attract high-quality clients who value your expertise.