It’s another royal wedding this weekend. As Harry and Meghan prepare for a long and happy life together, I suppose it’s only natural – like with any match – to hope that they last the distance. We’ve all heard the age-old advice on successful relationships… could that same wisdom be applied to our clients?
We’ve rounded up 10 classic rules of a happy, long-lasting relationship, so you can continue to send those monthly invoices.
1. Learn to listen more
It’s easy to fall into the trap of assuming we always know what’s best for our client, especially if we’ve been with them for a while. But we can’t possibly know everything. We have to listen more to what our client is saying – get to the heart of their ongoing problems and be prepared to continue learning ourselves. Nothing stays the same, after all.
2. Learn to communicate successfully
If you leave your client hanging for weeks on end, how will they know whether you’re working on their business? A happy client is someone who knows what’s going on. In which case, communicate with them on a regular basis. Send a weekly update every Monday morning, detailing what you’ll be focusing on that week – even if you won’t be able to squeeze them in. Schedule a regular conference call to catch up. And definitely book a face-to-face meeting at least once a month, as nothing beats sitting in front of your client to strengthen your relationship.
3. Know when to apologise
We all mess up sometimes. It’s part of life. Swallow your pride if you’ve done something wrong and say sorry to your client. They’ll appreciate your humble demeanour. And, more importantly, you’ll cement your relationship by showing that you’re prepared to accept when you’ve tripped up. This will only build your trust with one another.
4. Spice things up now and again
If you feel things are becoming a little stagnant, remind your client why they hired you in the first place by spicing things up once in a while. Don’t just do the bare minimum. Always see your client as a fresh one. What new and clever thing are you going to suggest to help them become better? They will love you for making an effort and always trying to diversify.
5. Show some fire and passion
Nothing makes a client happier than a freelancer or supplier who gets excited about their business. Show some passion for every project. Wave your arms in the air at meetings, make those eyes sparkle – demonstrate how keen you are to make your client a success.
6. Make them feel like they’re your one and only
The green-eyed monster can rear its ugly head if you talk about another client. They don’t want to know that you work for other people. They’ll want to feel special. And that you’ll always put them first. Bear this in mind when chatting to all clients. Unless you think a healthy mention now and again keeps them keen. You might want them to know that you’re in demand and have other options.
7. Be compassionate
For whatever reason, it’s natural to dislike our clients sometimes. They might be over-demanding, needy or difficult. When you’re banging your head against your desk in frustration, you should practice some compassion and remember that these clients have their own pressures and frustrations.
8. Honesty is the best policy
It’s not easy having difficult conversations with clients… like when you’ve made a mistake, it’s best to confess and hold your hands up. Honesty builds trust and with trust, a client will allow you to be more involved in their business. And the more involved you are, the more you become indispensable to them.
9. Know when to put up a fight
No healthy relationship can exist without fighting. A good argument can help clear the air. We’re not suggesting you start shouting at your client. Hell no! We’re saying that you have to sometimes pick your battles wisely and speak up when you don’t agree with something. Like when you think your client is about to make a mistake or if they’re about to choose the wrong logo – speak up! At least if they do mess up, they’ll remember that you warned them.
10. Treat your client with respect
Without respect, any relationship will break down. You have to believe in one another and trust that you’re both doing the best you can. Without that solid foundation, you just won’t work. Your client, for example, might start to doubt you. Maintain respect by trusting your client and earning their trust in return. Be open and respect that you have an equal say in your relationship. Never talk crap about your client to anyone – they hire and pay you, why be disrespectful? Mutual respect will help you enjoy many happy years together.