Your bread and butter as a freelancer are your clients, but sometimes clients don’t return. If you have your own business, you would have discovered the old marketing cliché that it is easier to retain a client than to attain new ones rings true. But why is it that you aren’t getting repeated business and what can you do to build a loyal client base?
Here are the top five reasons why freelancers don’t always get repeated business and what you can do about it.
1. Missing Deadlines
While working with a corporation, your project is a small piece of the puzzle. It has a specific slot in your client’s timeline and other tasks are very likely dependent on it. Submitting your work late will have a ripple effect on a bigger timeline that you might not be aware of. Your clients are then put under pressure to meet their own deadlines causing them to sacrifice quality. Worst case scenario, it might even lead to the company losing money! Now ask yourself, will you go back to someone if they cause you to lose money?
The advantage of being a freelancer is that you can determine your own working hours. Simultaneously you will need to manage your own time and ensure that you meet your deadlines. Set specific working hours for yourself and stick to them. Then, create a timeline for each client on when they can expect specific milestones in the project. It is good practice to build in a buffer period in case something might come up but there is no harm in working overtime if you are running out of time. Remember – always under promise and over deliver.
Sometimes life happens with unforeseen circumstances popping up. If this happens to you then communication is key. Don’t try to avoid your client but rather send them an email explaining your situation, that the project is being delayed and when they can expect to receive it.
2. Delivering bare minimum
It is easy to do just what is expected of you but that is what everyone else is also doing. Going the extra mile won’t take that much time and leaves your client satisfied and feeling that they are getting value for their money.
This doesn’t have to be big gestures but can be something as easy as the way that you deliver your work or providing them with something they might need in future. For example, offer a shared folder or USB backup of all the photos you took of them.
Client service is an important component in a business and will make you stand out in a very competitive market. Successfully identifying opportunities where you can add value in the project will turn your clients into long-term customers.
3. Ignoring your client
Sometimes while you are busy you simply forget to check your emails, other times you might actually be ignoring your clients on purpose. As a freelancer, you don’t have to be on your emails 24/7. Distractions such as emails have proven to be disruptive to your work process but you need to check your emails at least two to three times a day. If a client emails you, at the very least acknowledge on the same day that you have received the email.
It is important to stay in touch with your clients and let them know what is going on. Simply ignoring your clients or not getting back to them in a timely manner will damage your relationship and can even put future work with at risk. Allocate a set time daily to answer emails if you frequently forget to read your emails. Over time you will get to know your clients and learn who needs a bit more frequent communication. Adapting to this will greatly help you improve your customer experience.
4. Refusing to do revisions
The hope of every freelancer is to get the job done right the first time, but that isn’t always the case. Sometimes there are things which might require tweaks or a bit more attention.
Doing revisions for your clients can be seen by some as a value-add, but in reality, it should actually be part of the package. Ensuring that your client is completely satisfied with the product you provided for them is important in assuring customer satisfaction and return business from them.
Use your discretion with every client but expect to deliver at least two or three rounds of revisions. The time that you spend doing revisions is an investment in your relationship with your client. Simultaneously, remember that your time is your most expensive resource, so be clear and upfront with your client about the amount of revisions that they are allowed per project and what are the charges associated with additional iterations.
5. Slacking in Communication
Communication is seemingly just as important in the customer’s experience as actually delivering quality. Doing small things to ensure that your customer is completely satisfied can do wonders for your relationship with them.
Remember to stay in touch with your client throughout the project. It is good practice to send your clients a reminder if you are waiting for information from them. A great template for communication is:
- What you’ve done
- What they can expect you to do next
- When they can expect you to do it
Even just following up after a project to find out whether they are satisfied or require any changes will make your clients feel important.
Take the time after finishing a project to thank your clients for choosing to work with you and ask them about their experience. A short online questionnaire is a great way to reach out to them and show them that their feedback is important to you.