It’s not enough to provide a service. There are thousands of other web designers out there, and clients have their choice of who to work with. But when you provide an excellent customer experience, your clients will refer others to you.
Think of it like this: you can eat at any restaurant and fill your belly. But even if the food is good, if the service stinks and the restaurant is uninviting, you’re probably not going to go back, or recommend the restaurant to your friends.
Likewise, even if a designer produces a great website in the end, if the project was riddled with miscommunication, disorganization, and the client felt frustrated or ignored the whole time, they’re not going to return or recommend the designer to their friends.
A little bit of customer service can go a long way.
You shouldn’t be reinventing the wheel every time you work with a client. Every client needs to sign a contract, pay an invoice, and provide you with information so you can do your job. By having structured systems in place, you’ll never find yourself on launch day without server login information or final payment.
Clients love systems because it lets them know what to expect, and keeps them in the loop. Creating a simple welcome package can let clients know how long the project will take, what you’ll be working on when, when they need to get you items like content and login info, and how to communicate with you. This prevents a lot of anxiety on the client’s part because they are informed, and it keeps you from wasting time by answering the same questions over and over.
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Clients don’t know what we know. If they did, they wouldn’t hire us.
You don’t need to teach clients how to design, but explaining WHY you did things a certain way will help clients understand and trust you.
For example, something as simple as a website’s navigation can make a big impact on a visitor’s experience. So explaining why you put the navigation links in a certain order (they should always tell a story) can help clients understand that there’s a lot more involved in creating a website than just choosing a pretty shade of blue.
Of course, you can also educate clients on why that specific shade of blue is great for their website because it’s calming and authoritative without being stuffy.
Beyond educating clients about why you put things where and how that will help them, it’s important to give clients the tools they need to survive without you. While we always hope clients will come back, they shouldn’t be completely reliant on us every time they want to add a blog post or change out an image. Arming your clients with basic instructions (like in a Goodbye Packet!) on how to manage their new site will help them confidently move forward.
Just because the project is over, doesn’t mean the the relationship has to be. Following up with clients after their project ends shows them that you care about their success. More than anything else in my business, this has made the greatest impact in getting referrals and more business.
By checking in on clients, they remember you when they hear of someone looking for a referral. It also prompts them to ask about maintenance work or new projects. I get a lot of, “Oh, you know what? I actually need to add a sales page. Can you do that?” or similar requests from simple emails checking in with clients. This plus referrals from these past clients amounts to more than 80% of my revenue.
Following up with clients doesn’t mean you’re selling to them every time you hit “send” on an email. Following up means you’re actually checking in because you know if they have a problem, you can help. It’s not sleazy, and clients love knowing that you care.
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Remember, customer service is vital to running a successful business. Simply producing quality work means nothing if the clients leave unhappy with the overall experience.