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How to build long-term relationships with your clients

Have you ever wondered why some clients switch vendors overnight? Or how some companies keep strong client relations that last for decades? Both these cases reveal that there exist certain elements about an ongoing process affected by many factors. You don’t lose clients due to a sudden change of their heart nor do you maintain them because of habit.

There are factors that will drive clients away and others that will bring them closer to you and make them trust you – the value you as their partner. And those do not solely depend on how talented you are in what you do and whether your rates are affordable.

In order to keep your customers satisfied you need to be consistent, organized and available. In this article, we are going to focus on the things you can do to build strong client relationships and how to make them last. Creating business bonds can be especially hard for freelancers but are an essential part of their professional well-being.

Carefully plan your projects

Upon drafting a quote for a project it is important to guide your client through the process and explain each step of the way. There’s the case that your client has already a set of specifications in mind but in the majority of cases, they need your professional expertise.

However, you should be much focused on their requirements and make sure that the final product covers their needs.

Apart from clarifying procedures and project details you need to outline the timeline of your work – set a deadline and by all means stick to it! This leads us to the next tip.

Communicate frequently & efficiently

Once you have agreed on the project details and you start working on it you want to include your client in the process. Let them know about the project’s status on a frequent basis, communicate any obstacles that might have occurred.

No one likes surprises and your client will appreciate that you take into account their opinion. It is essential to update them for any changes in the timeline so you can avoid disappointment.

Nowadays it is incredibly easy to stay in touch with your clients via e-mail, phone and social media. Be sure to make yourself available and reply to their inquiries promptly and politely. Also, you may want to inform your clients whenever you take a day or two off in case they try to reach you.

Be a resource of useful information

Offering your clients more than just a service or a product adds more value to your work. As you come to know them at a deeper level you should provide them with valuable insights into their industry, share the knowledge you gained after years of experience and let them know you are more than just their vendor – you are their partner.

By sharing your knowledge free of charge you are perceived as a reliable professional they can consult.

Applying your skills to a wider range of circumstances will boost their confidence in you and will help towards building a strong client relationship.

Share connections

Apart from offering your skills and consultation, you can also share important connections with your clients.

It is only reasonable that you are not an expert in everything so it would be quite beneficial if you shared trusted contacts of experienced professionals with your clients.

They will immediately appreciate your help and solid advice. Plus, this shows you pay extra attention to their needs and care to maintain a long, healthy business relationship. The sharing of connections may also be of mutual interest. Your clients can share their connections with you and thus create a powerful network of contacts that will help both sides grow and evolve.

Follow through on your commitments

A huge part of establishing strong client relationships is trust. You should be able to meet deadlines and deliver goods in time so your clients know you can keep your promises.

By committing to a deadline and following through every time proves to your clients you are trustworthy.

This is a key player in long-term client relationships as firms tend to stick with reliable vendors or suppliers rather than switching to cheaper solutions. Also, you want to set realistic deadlines and even extend the delivery date a little. By giving yourself extra time to complete a project, you increase the possibility of delivering earlier than expected and raise customer satisfaction even more!

Be true to yourself and your clients

Honesty is a key element for the success of every human relationship and this is especially true for business relations as well. Be honest about your skills; avoid boasting about your achievements and giving advice beyond your area of expertise.

It is better to admit ignorance than mislead your clients about your capabilities, which will only lead to frustration and eventually disruption of client relationships.

It is also important to be true to yourself; know your limits and your firm’s flexibility. Usually freelancers tend to overestimate their strength and overload themselves and their schedule ending up missing deadlines and losing customers. Without a reputation for integrity, you’ll never be able to cultivate the kind of long-term relationships your business depends on. Recognize your strong and weak points and you will be able to better manage crises and optimize your overall performance.

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