The design industry is highly competitive. There is always someone on your heels waiting to take the next job or to sweep a client out from under you. Being able to retain your clients is essential in this market, and repeat business will be the one thing that gets you through slowdowns in business. Being able to delight your clients is a must in this economy. You want to give the client the most bang for their buck, all without running up the bill. Here are some cost-effective ways to delight your clients and keep them coming back time and time again.
When you design a logo for a client, a lot of work goes into the design as well and coming up with the underlying concept. You have spent a lot of time tying ideas, concepts, and tastes together to create just the right iconic image or lettering to represent their company. Many times, designers will simply create the print files for the logo and they give their clients only the .eps files. However, you can go above and beyond by saving their logo as a transparent PNG file so that it looks great on their website, a black and white version for possible future needs, and perhaps a small simplified version for video bugs or other subtle uses. I have seen many times where a company has their logo designed professionally, but they were left on their own to make minor transformations to their logo, and the less-than-perfect results hurt their company image.
Add an Easy Extra Item to Their Deliverables
Adding a freebie for your clients is always good. Everyone wants to get the most bang for their buck. Let’s say that your client requested a logo design, business cards, and a direct mailer. You could easily throw in a simple letterhead design in just a few minutes, which adds value to your services and it didn’t really cost you much work time or effort. Clients say that they “don’t like surprises,” but this is one kind of surprise that will always be most welcome.
Follow Up after Completing a Project
Often, designers will complete a project for their clients, collect their money, and the client will never hear from them again. A better practice would be to wait a week or two, and then follow up with a phone call, inquiring as to how they were enjoying their new logo, stationary, website, etc. You can inquire about the results that they are getting, and depending on their response, you might be able to offer assistance, or possibly additional design work. This can keep the income flowing in. Maybe they didn’t go for a website initially, because they didn’t want to spend the money, but their customers are complaining about the fact that they don’t have a website. That’s where you come to the rescue.
Deliver Ahead of Schedule
This works especially well for your best repeat clients. Prioritizing them and making them feel special for being “good clients” lets them know that you appreciate their business and that you take care of customers who have a history with you. Putting these clients ahead of other work will make them very happy, and they will keep them coming back to you because they know that they’re at the top of your client list.
Complete Projects Under Budget
If you give a client an estimate, but you really want to wow them. You might try working at a faster pace than normal. While you can’t do this for every project, when the project is finished slightly under budget, the client will certainly be delighted. Anyone is always happy to save money. Combine this with the previous tip about delivering ahead of schedule, and your clients won’t hesitate to come back to you. Delivering a project under budget might actually make you vastly more money in the long term due to referrals and repeat business.
Accept Multiple Forms of Payment
Accepting multiple forms of payment makes it easy for your clients to pay you, and it will increase the likelihood that you will get paid promptly. Payment is usually a client’s #1 concern, so setting up fair, convenient terms that work well for your client is a great way to keep them happy. For example, you might spread their payments out at a low monthly cost, which will keep them out of financial binds. You can also accept multiple forms of payment, such as Paypal, checks, and credit cards. Paypal and Square give you the ability to accept credit card payments on site using an Android or iOS phone. Making it easy to pay means that they don’t have to make special arrangements, hardships, or trips to the bank to get the bill paid, and ultimately, you’ll be the one getting the credit.
Offer Expert Insights At No Extra Cost
With just a few minutes of your expert attention, you might analyze a client’s competition and identify weaknesses and opportunities. Then, you can offer advice or a strategy that would help them to leverage their strengths over other businesses. Another service that you can provide at no cost might be to analyze their web traffic, or their SEO quality and make some recommendations based on what you find. This is obviously a very welcome gesture, but it can also lead to additional work, such as creating better copy for the site or capitalizing on the opportunities that you’ve identified.
Help With Social Media
Creating a good campaign for your clients is fantastic, but if their scope of advertising is limited, their results will be too. Setting up social media pages for a business can really help promote their business and services, and while it may be easy for you, it could be a baffling “black box” of technical jargon for your client. Setting up a basic Google+ Page, or a Local Business page, as well as Facebook and Twitter account is fast and can earn you a ton of gratitude from clients who are intimidated by social media and all of the jargon and advice that comes with it.
If they already have a strong social media presence, maybe you could take a few short minutes and review their pages, making recommendations where they might improve or get better results, such as adding a video, providing testimonials, showing samples of their work, etc. This doesn’t cost anything for your client to do, and you come out looking like a hero.
Provide More Extras
You might consider adding more extras to help your client and add value to your services. If you built a website and it’s purpose is to gather email addresses of interested individuals, you might anticipate the next step and design a newsletter template for them that will look professional. This will make their campaign more successful, and most email services provide basic templates to start from, saving you from extra cost. You’ll start to look less like a designer and more like a consultant.
Remember Them At Holidays
You probably purchase holiday cards in bulk to send to your family members, so why not purchase enough to cover your clients as well? This is very nice personal touch to add to a business relationship, and if you designed them yourself, it can also serve as a testament to your stellar design skills.
This helps you for several reasons: It shows the client that you care about them and were thinking about them during the holidays. You make them feel like people and not just dollar signs for your wallet. Another reason this works well is that it humanizes you and they see you both as a business and as a person with a family, which will help to warm a client up to you. Finally, it can be a personal, heartfelt advertisement that shows your talents and creativity. Would it surprise you to land some January work based on a clever, well-designed holiday card?
Having steady and repeat clients will be the one thing that keeps your business going above all else. One of the best ways to get and keep clients is to go above and beyond for them, and there are some ways to overdeliver that don’t cost a lot of time or money. This is a good practice, just remember not to go overboard. Showing you customers that you care and that they aren’t just sources of income will build their trust, and your business will also grow due to positive word of mouth promotion.
What about you? What things do you do to delight your clients?
James George is a professional web and graphic designer. James is an expert in design, and a professional web designer, with a special interest in Wordpress. Founder of G Squared Studios - A Professional Web Design Studio, James has been a professional designer since 2005. Eager to connect with fellow designers, he is also creator of Creative Beacon, a design blog featuring articles about the design Industry, and tutorials about design software. Connect With Me or Click here to subscribe to my Newsletter