Catching attention and bringing in new clients is easier than it seems. A lot of it is down to keeping your existing clients happy, offering a fantastic customer service, and generally doing things to keep your clients in a positive mood about whatever it is you do for them, whether you’re a graphic or web designer, web developer, or even a photographer. This article outlines eight great tips to help keep your clients super happy, ultimately resulting in long-term clients and even a longer client list!
Step 1: Keep A Positive Attitude
Some clients know a lot about the creative industry, and can sometimes surprise to just how much they actually know, especially if they’ve been in the same job or running the same business for a long time. These clients are usually generally easy to keep hold of, so long as you get the work done to a good standard. Others, however, are amateurs, and either think they know more than you about your professional field but actually don’t know much at all (these are the bad clients – you can usually tell instantly if a bad client has approached you if they something along the lines of “I have made a proof of the design I want in Microsoft Office”, or just generally don’t know much about design and are happy to let you get on with it (these are the good clients, who leave almost everything up to you).
Mainly because of the several types of clients I listed above, it’s not always easy to keep a positive attitude whilst working for them – some know exactly what they want and won’t stop harrassing you until it’s perfect, others don’t know what they want at all and don’t stop harrassing you until you’ve made thirty-odd-thousand revisions, and then there are some that are fine and just let you get on with it. So, what can you do to keep a positive attitude?
Listen To Your Client
However much they annoy you and make you feel like your blood cells are about to burst from your veins and splatter all over the ceiling, try your hardest to listen and to pay attention to what they’re saying. Wait until after they’ve finished talking to make your own suggestions, instead of interupting them, otherwise they may also get annoyed, resulting in a bad relationship on both ends and probably leaving you without some work, which definitely isn’t worth it just because you couldn’t bare to listen for any longer!
Show Your Client Examples Of Work
Show them examples of your ideas, whether existing work from your portfolio, or work of other creatives – you could print some examples of work that have a relation to their company or project (i.e. if your client wants a brochure designed for their clothing company, look for some great examples of brochures related to apparel design or fashion) and show them when at a meeting, or send it via email. This could be a great opportunity to show off your technology, too – why not upload the photos to your iPhone or iPad (when it has been released, of course!) and flick through some examples this way? This way your client can interact, keeping them happy and possibly making another conversation about the device, which helps to build up a happy working relationship. Discuss what you like about the shown examples, and what they like, and come up with your own (rough) ideas whilst you are still with the client.
Discuss The Ideas
Discuss the ideas and try to repeat some of their ideas in their inital brief/speech to keep them happy, and to make sure they know you were listening to them when you first spoke about the particular project.
Step 2: Keep Your Client Up-To-Date
Clients like to be kept up-to-date; afterall, they are paying you for their services! There are a few ways to keep them up-to-date, some old fashioned, some modern, and some in between.
Electronic Mail (Email)
Probably the most used piece of “technology” to keep your clients up-to-date. Send them the odd email to let them know how the project is going – you can also send them screenshots of the work in progress, although I would avoid this if you’re client isn’t too tech-savvy. Screenshots can confuse some people, and you’ll get silly questions back asking things such as: “Why is there a border?”, “Why is the design in a browser?” and “Where is the rest of the text?”. If you send screenshots, make sure your client is 100% sure they know it’s a screenshot of the work in progress, not a draft!
A lot of people don’t yet have Google Wave, but if you do, you’ll probably find you can invite clients, friends and family to join. Ask your client if they would like an invitation to join Google Wave (something else which will probably make them happy, just because you asked them!), and tell them that it is a great way for you to keep them up-to-date with the latest going-ons regarding their project. It’s much easier than email, and you can look back over your discussions and ideas without going through thousands of emails in your inbox and/or trash can.
Most people have at least one social networking account – it may be Facebook, Twitter, or even the old school MySpace. Search for your clients, and if they have an account send them a friend request and keep them up-to-date this way.
Call your client (make sure it’s within sensible hours, 9am to 7pm is usually good, although it’s always best to ask when the best time to call is!) and discuss where you are with the project and when it is you expect to show them your progress.
A quick and simple way to let them know when you’re expecting to send them an email or document regarding their project. A simple text such as “Hi Client, just to let you know that I’m going to be sending the inital draft your way via email later on this evening!” will keep them reassured that you are working hard on their project, and will earn your a few brownie points.
If the project is huge, why not send them some drafts via traditional post (now more commonly referred to as “Snail Mail”!). This will surprise them, and will bring joy to their day to see your great work, especially if you didn’t tell them you were going to send drafts via post.
Step 3: Send Completed Projects In Several Ways
This is a good one. There’s nothing better than receiving a finished file in various different and stylish ways. Don’t just send the files via email – be creative, afterall that is the field you’re working in! Try some of the following ideas…
Electronic Mail (Email)
Always send a copy of the files via email, whether as an attachment or an email with a link to download for XX amount of days or months, or even forever if you have a good host or server. Email is a quick way for your clients to download and view the files, and access them from whereever they are at the current moment in time: at work, at home, or even on a business trip or a luxurious holiday.
Compact Disc or Digital Versatile Disc
Burn your completed files to CD or DVD (depending on their final size) and pack it (or them) in a smart disc holder that you personally designed. Include your email, web address, your clients name, the project ID/number/name and the web address to where they can download the back up copy of the files. This is a great way to hand the files over to your client, as it is a secure back-up aswell as something solid, meaning every time they see it they will think of your company and (hopefully) of the good service you provided them with.
USB Pen/Flash Drive
These things have hundreds of names, but I’m sure you know what I mean! They can be picked up at incredibly low prices now, and there are several places out there offering to print your logos on them – a great way to impress your client, and to remind them about your company incase they ever need more creative work or would like to recommend a friend or family member! Giving something to your client will always help to keep them happy, even if it isn’t much. Afterall, it has always been the thought that counts, right?
Step 4: Be Generous
This isn’t always a good idea if you need to make a living, which most of us do unless you’re already a millionaire (in which case I doubt you’re reading this – if I’m wrong, please feel free to stick around and make a donation!). But, being kind and generous will more than likely put you into a better position with your client.
Offer To Buy Them A Coffee
When at a meeting with your client, offer to buy them a coffee (or similar). In most cases, they’ll probably refuse and offer to buy you one, but the thought is still there. Afterall, if they’re a good client and have a good project, they’re more than likely paying you enough to buy a coffee every couple of minutes!
Give Away Customized Pens etc.
Buying a bulk lot of customized pens, mugs, rubbers, rulers (the list goes on…) is a cheap solution to giving away something for nothing to your clients. Make sure your email or telephone number is on the pen so they can easily get in contact with you where ever they are (assuming they have a internet connection of phone!). Just the fact that you’re giving your client something for free of charge will bring a smile to their face.
Offer A Free Print
If you design for fun (i.e. posters) why not offer them a free A4 print? You can probably get a good quality print from your home printer and it’ll cost you next to nothing. If your client likes your style of work, they’ll probably be overjoyed with this!
Step 5: Set Them Up A FTP Account
You can set your client up with a FTP account on your server with no cost. Why?
Easy File Sharing
Using a FTP account for a particular project is a super easy way to allow both you and your client access to the projects files wherever you are at any time of the day. If you have a good host or server, this will probably cost you, well… nothing! If your hosting account doesn’t offer you unlimited FTP accounts, you should check out HostGator, who offer unlimited space, bandwidth, domains, email accounts and FTP accounts for under $10 a month – your client will probably be happy if you refer them, too, as they are a great company.
Let them know that for as long as they use you as their primary designer that they’re free to use their FTP account on your server for as long as they want to store files such as office documents, creative files and images up to a quoted amount – this shouldn’t have any effect on your server so long as it is used sensibly and will make for a super happy client, as this alone is a service people pay a lot for!
Step 6: Refer Your Client To Good Companies
When it comes to your client actually getting their work printed or on the web, they can sometimes get lost. Offer to set up accounts for them for a small price, or refer them to companies that you trust and know are good.
Refer them to your trusted hosting company. I personally use HostGator (as I mentioned earlier). A lot of hosting companies also have referral links, and if you’ve kept your client happy, I’m sure they’ll be more than happy to use that link when registering to get you a few extra quid or dollars.
Let them know what you think the best place to register their domain is. Provide them information on where to find reliable and trusted multiple domain web hosting as well. Some places are better than others depending on what domain it is you’re looking for. My domains are registered with HostGator, although one is registered with GoDaddy as it offered a better price for the particular domain.