While surfing the web to see what's over there, I saw irrelevant and general ideas. So, to make it practical and helpful, I started writing about how I see client relationships in my business.
If you want to grow a good relationship with your clients by heart, firstly, you have to put some effort into getting a result.
The problem with all of us, including me, is that we look over some of what's in our minds, giving fine details and assuming that the other person understands them.
It's like we're looking at a view together, and I talk about how beautiful and blue the lake is, and you get it. But generally, client-freelancer communication does not work like that. Come on, not so easy describing the place to me when you're just talking on the phone.
The straightforward way to determine whether what the client said is enough: repeating what they have said and understood.
When the talk is over, explain what you know and what you will do step by step without getting too detailed. While the employer is listening to you, they will either smile with a relaxed face or constantly interrupt and correct you by saying that you will do it as they say.
In both cases, they will think you understand the business after the interview.
Be Aware of the Language Barrier and Close the Gap with Your Experience
Your communication never gets to the other party 100%. Empathy completes the blank pages. How you fill these gaps depends on your knowledge and experience in your work.
I want to divide understanding ability into two:
- When you listen, do you focus on yourself or the other? Do you listen to answer, or do you listen to understand?
- How's your English? Unfortunately, understanding English directly makes a difference since our work is focused on exportation.
Experience helps us fill in the blanks with the right "thing". Imagine that you understand the outline of the project and have done similar projects many times before.
Quickly, you can fill in the parts the client could not think of before. Ask a question such as, "I'm going to do it this way, is it okay?". In this way, even if your client has not yet explained those parts, thanks to your experience, you can fill in the gaps and take the right step toward the project.
You understood the project very clearly. Let's see how much you can do.
It is practically impossible to actualize 100% of the project you have designed in your head. But the closer you get, the better, naturally.
Now let's talk about the reasons why everything doesn't work out exactly the way you expect:
- Probably you have never done a similar project before. If you had done it before, you could have seen formerly where the problems could be.
- The client has not done their homework.
- The client has not completed or failed to handle their responsibilities about completing the project.
- Have you talked about responsibilities before? Did they understand it clearly?
- Did they give their consent in writing before the contract?
- They realized in the middle of the project that the request was improper.
- The client, who has not done similar work before, may think their request will be final.
- In the middle of the project, some parts of project may look unnecessary. That's why your previous experience is so important.
- You may not have enough time and budget.
In theory, with unlimited time, excellent work is a guarantee. But in the real world, both budget and time are limited.
The important thing is what kind of project you will produce under these limitations. Considering these 2 parameters, you should present the project's output as honestly as possible at the contract stage.
Explain the Project Correctly
Promoting is as important as doing the work. More or less. I want to give some combinations.
- Understanding The client Correctly → Quality Work → Terrible Presentation → Mediocre Performance
- Understanding The client Correctly → Average Business → Terrible Presentation → Disappointment
- Understanding The client Correctly → Average Business → Average Presentation → Ordinary Business
- Understanding The client Correctly → Average Business → Quality Presentation → You Met The Expectation
- Understanding The client Correctly → Quality Work → Quality Presentation → Wow
If you think you are good at your job, but the client does not understand you, it is helpful to look at presentation techniques. Presentation is a multiplier that transfers your efforts to the client.
Let's say you spend 100 hours on a job where you understand the client well.
- 50 hours with a terrible presentation
- 100 hours with an average presentation
- 150 hours with a quality presentation
You can give the vibe of effort with a good presentation. When you look at it this way, the presentation becomes one of the direct factors determining the value of your hourly fee.
No matter how good you are at your job if you can't present it right, you will likely keep getting half the salary you deserve.
What Are Some Tips For A Good Presentation?
- The presentation is not a PowerPoint or Keynote file but the correct transfer of the work to your client
- Ensure to include the brief you understand from the client in the presentation.
- Focus on the client's benefit from their perspective, not on how excellent the work is.
- Prepare documents, shoot videos, and explain the development/design phases.
- Give time to assimilate after submission, do not flout at follow-up questions, and do not force the client to close the project quickly.
- Answer questions about the task, even if the project ends. The business between you may not be finished from the client's perspective yet, or your behavior after the delivery may be a significant factor in giving you the next project.
Eliminate the Bad Client From the Beginning
Unfortunately, you can not get to know your client until you have an experience with them.
You don't know if it's good or bad until you work with them. You have to face the challenges that the client causes. You have to hand over the job perfectly. Once you get your 5 stars, you can decide if you want to work on a new project with the client.
Don't miss this client if they give importance to your time, want you to be a part of their team, and understand your approach.
The Client is Always Right
Do you think the client is always right? I don't think they are always right. But when you feel they are not right, it is necessary to say it directly.
The key to understanding and satisfying the client a little more is if you are a freelancer. Some clients are not satisfied even if you do what they want. If you adapt to their style, you can present the job the way they want.
Always Transfer Your Progress
Don't stay quiet until the work is done. Give info about the progress step by step. After you get the job, you can say I'll finish it on Friday. You can inform the client during the job.
If the job is going to be delayed, it's best to state it as soon as possible. One of the biggest communication mistakes is assuming that people understand everything you say. The thing I do most often is to let them know constantly.
Inform the client about the progress. So if you got the job, talk about the job every 2 days maximum. Deliver the job on time.
Do not Extend Even a Few Hours
I want to talk about what happens to me in relatively large projects: The Gum Effect.
At first, the project starts nicely. However, if there is poor communication, a quick, 4-5 hours of job can take 15-20 hours. When in and outs increase, the client goes into more detail. Therefore, it is important to handle the work before entering this effect.
Understand what the client wants, and don't loosen the strings too much.
You'll lose your clients if you don't have a healthy relationship with your clients, no matter how good you are. Keeping a good relationship before, during, and after the project gets you oncoming jobs.
Set everything clear in advance and be honest all the time. Ask everything in your mind and answer every question for a good start.
Today, we talked about keeping a good relationship with clients as freelancers.
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