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The Best Customer Relationship Tip You’ll Ever Hear

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Finding customers is hard.

It’s hard for everyone, but especially for freelancers – they’ve got too much to do, not enough time in which to do it, and they’d much rather be doing what they do best than networking and prospecting for new business.

Which is why, once you’ve found a good customer, you can’t afford to lose them.

And yet, freelancers do – all the time.

Here’s why – and what you can do about it…

Living and Breathing Your Work

If you’re a writer, you live in a world of writing. If you’re a designer, you live in a world of design. If you’re a consultant… well, you get the idea.

Freelancers live in a world of their own expertise.

If you’re a writer, you live in a world of writing. If you’re a designer, you live in a world of design. If you’re a consultant… well, you get the idea.

The result of living and breathing your area of expertise is an incredible attention to your work. You know the difference between good work and bad work, and you know the difference between great work and merely good work.

When a design is good, but not great, it grates on your sensibilities. When writing is clumsy, you can’t help but reach for a red pen.

Which is why your absolute focus once you’ve landed a job is on doing the work, and doing it very, very well.

There’s only one small problem with that…

It’s Not About the Work

Unfortunately, the quality of your work is not the most important factor that determines how your customer thinks of you, and how satisfied they will be with the engagement.

That’s because your customer doesn’t live and breathe your area of expertise, and they probably can’t tell work that is slightly better from work that is slightly worse.

All they know is that they need a job done, and they need it done well. They hire you because you’re the one who understands the details.

Which is great for you, in that it pays your bills, but not so great, in that your customers aren’t in a position to evaluate you on what you do best.

But they will evaluate you… so what metric will they use?

It’s About the Relationship

The answer is the relationship.

They can’t tell the difference between designs that are slightly better and slightly worse, but they can definitely tell between a freelancer that they like, and one that gets on their nerves. They want:

  • A freelancer that they trust, rather than one who they don’t, or can’t.
  • A freelancer who is reliable, rather than a freelancer who misses deadlines.
  • A freelancer who is responsive, rather than a freelancer who takes days to answer emails.

So, which are you? Can your customers trust you? Are you reliable? Are you responsive?
Let’s say that the answer is yes… how will your clients know?

Remember, It’s Not About the Work!

Delivering your project on-time and on-budget is a good start, but it isn’t enough. Most projects run for weeks or months, and your customer won’t wait until the end of the project to form an opinion about how good a job you’re doing. That’s what freelancers often forget, and it’s how they lose customers.

They land the deal, and then they retreat into their home offices to do the work. They’re focused on that work, and don’t want to deal with distractions.

Distractions like their customers.

That’s where the problems start. Yes, customers can be annoying sometimes – they can nag, and want updates even when there’s nothing new to update (and it’s clearly laid out in your project timelines).

But even though the customer isn’t always right, they definitely get to decide whether they like you or not.

So… how do you get them to like you?

The Tip: Answer Your Emails!

It really is that simple – just answer your emails.

All of them, and every day. If someone emails you today, they should get an answer today. Or tomorrow morning, at the absolute latest.

It shows your customer that if they need something, you’re there. It keeps them from worrying, before the worrying ever starts.

It shows that you’re a professional, and it shows that you care.

This sounds simple, but it’s a huge part of how I built my consulting practice, and it’s a huge part of how a lot of people built their audiences.

So now that you’re done reading this post, head over to your inbox – and clear it. Answer every email, and make it a daily habit.

Your clients will thank you.

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