It’s clear that providing good customer service should be expected. But going beyond that can help your freelance business thrive. It can be easy to excel at this compared to most freelancers, by changing the way you think about your role.
You aren’t there to throw up another generic landing page for a hot start-up. You’re there to increase engagement, attract more visitors or increase conversion. Once you get out of the “do what I’m asked” mentality and into the “help do more” way of thinking, spotting ways to improve your service becomes simple.
Make sure the work you do aligns with the business goals. Understand how the business works, and why it exists. Buy their product. Talk to as many people inside the company as possible. Ask a lot of questions that begin with Why?
Be very clear about how you do things, why you do them that way and how much it will cost. People get angry when something isn’t the way it should be in their head. You can avoid this by using your experience to recognise what information you should share up front. And once you’re clear about how things should work, figure out what can go wrong. And when they do, be upfront about it. Setting good expectations is about being clear, and honest.
Once a client knows what to expect, it’s easy to delight them by over-achieving. Finish projects early. Save them money. Deliver more. These are all things you can do easily. One way to get insight into what exceptional might mean to them, is to constantly ask for feedback, and make it part of the creation process. You don’t have to take it all on board, but you should educate them as to why you’re doing something differently.
Identify future problems
Running a business is hard. If you can, help out more. Freelancers are in a unique position to have seen many businesses operate in many industries. This gives you a broad (but shallow) perspective on what works and what doesn’t. As long as you’re not sharing trade secrets! The more value you add, the more you’re worth to your client. This is the equivalent to reducing your costs, but in a positive way for both you and your customer.
Keep it personal
Whoever thinks business isn’t personal, is a complete moron. Even though I much prefer doing things via email — most people appreciate a phone call or better, a visit in person. Especially to start things off, an in-person meeting can communicate much more than a bunch of emails ever can. Remember, most small businesses are intertwined with the owners life. When they’re stressing you out or asking for more than they should of you, remember how much it means to them. I’m not saying everyone deserves this kind of help, but most people do.
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