Five Practical Tips for Retaining Your Best Clients

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HandshakeAs a freelancer, business owner or entrepreneur who works with many clients, you will develop a sketch of the type of person who makes an ideal client for your business. The more clients you work with and the more experience you gain as an independent worker, the more defined this ideal client persona will become.

Every client you work with will not be one of your ideal clients, but when you do land a “perfect” client, you don’t want to let them go. By putting in a little extra time and effort, you can strengthen your relationships with these near-perfect clients that support your business goals and work to keep them on your client roster for the long haul.

Here are five practical ways you can work to retain the best of the best clients.

1. Go Above and Beyond…Every Time

I’ve said it before, but it warrants repeating, especially when talking about client retention: One of the most basic and effective ways to keep your clients happy is by exceeding their expectations. They hired you because you know what you’re doing and have proven your worth, but that’s not always enough. Striving for consistency and excellence across the board will not only make you an increasingly valuable partner to your client, but it will make you very hard to replace.

2. Get to Know Them Well

If you have great relationships built on depth and knowledge, you will eventually reach a point where you can anticipate their needs before they even have to say them out loud. This can make your work more effective and valuable because it saves the client time and energy, and they are assured that you can pick up any open items they may drop.

Plus, if you are open to getting to know your clients on a personal level, you can bolster your business relationships with real-world, human contact – something almost everyone values.

3. Keep the Lines of Communication Open

Responsiveness is important for every long-term relationship. Whether you communicate via email or telephone, don’t make your clients wait to hear back from you. You can also facilitate open communication with your clients by keeping them informed through mailings and newsletters, and communicating with them across various social media outlets.

4. Become a “Value-Added” Provider

Consider giving your clients more than they’re paying for. If you’re willing to make suggestions on the work process and open projects to make your work with the client more effective and efficient, you will be able to offer more than just a basic service. You can also prove your value by sending along links, articles and case studies that are relevant to the client’s business, as well as making introductions to support their networking activities.

5. Show How Much You Appreciate Them

Don’t be shy about letting your clients know how valuable they are to you. Holiday gifts, an unsolicited thank you, and even a structured client appreciation program can reinforce how important your clients are to your business. And we all, clients included, like to hear that we’re appreciated.

What do you do to retain clients and position yourself for long-term relationships?

Image credit: Sanja Gjenero

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  • http://www.microedgge.co.uk microedge

    Great post. Point 1- Go Above and Beyond…Every Time – is so true, if you go that “extra mile” to provide a client with exactly what they want and point 4 – Become a “Value-Added” Provider – Give the client something extra that they did not expect.

    These 5 points are the reason why I have had regular clients for over 10 years. I keep my client happy and they provide great word of mouth which is like free advertising that money can not buy.

  • outspokes

    Great post. It inspired me to write a reply on our blog: http://bit.ly/5JtV3d

  • http://www.HereNextYear.com lerxtjr

    “anticipate their needs before they even have to say them”

    Very true. Thought I’d throw in also that it’s important to educate the client along the way. Teach them the process you are going to take their project through so that they realize there are phases involved. You don’t have to teach them the nuts and bolts but insist that THEY be the ones in control of what’s going on by understanding the process and they will be forever grateful. And, you will showcase yourself as being unique since most service providers hope their client stays as far away from “the process” as possible.

  • savvydesigner

    I love the first point, we always need to get on that extra level to actually satisfy a client…plus I’d like to add a sixth point, honesty.

  • Anonymous

    I have to agree with lerxtjr,

    Nothing impresses clients more then being completely honest with them. It kind of goes with 4. A lot of times clients don’t understand all of the things they think they want. If you take the extra time to explain that while you COULD provide all of those things, it would be simpler to just use X and Y, they will really appreciate the effort to save them money and it always pays off in the long run