The reasons why clients leave you, and how to prevent them from going

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Winning new clients is tough for any creative. So once you have them, you should do everything you can to keep them happy. But many freelancers lose clients to their competition due to several common, yet avoidable, reasons.

We'll now attempt to explain how you can prevent clients from leaving, focusing around the top four qualities that clients look for when choosing a supplier – likability, delivery, trust and value.

Relationship chemistry issues

Are you likeable? Likability is one of the key deciding factors when clients are looking to hire a freelancer or agency. Business is, after all, about people. So if you suspect you’re having personal chemistry issues, there are ways you can rescue the relationship by adjusting your behaviour. For example:

  1. Are you regularly communicating with your client? Are you picking up the phone and tackling any issues head-on? Communication is key to a successful relationship.

  2. Are you a good listener? Listen carefully and affirm. Ask thoughtful questions to understand what your client is saying.

  3. Have you worked hard to build trust? Are you honest and reliable? Do you care about your client?

  4. Are you making the client feel special and prioritised? Are you putting the time and effort into building the relationship?

For further help, read our tips on how to charm anyone and win people over.

Questionable quality and delivery

Have you provided a high-quality service or product? Are you offering great value for money and meeting client expectations? You can undoubtedly put systems in place to ensure you’re doing everything you can to deliver your very best work.

But a client’s perception of the quality of your work is also crucial to get right. Here are some strategy ideas to help boost your client’s verdict on the quality of your work:

  1. Agree on outcomes and objectives at the very start of a project or client relationship. Put systems in place to track your progress and regularly update your client on successes. Read this tips article on how to manage and deliver a successful creative project.

  2. Offer complete transparency around your process, so that your client fully understands the extent of the work and skills involved.

  3. Communicate the challenges you’ve tackled and overcome to achieve your client’s objectives. Be open and honest about what you think will and won’t work. Be a consultant whenever possible.

Trust is compromised

Trust is key to every healthy relationship. It’s built around three fundamental areas: competence, perception of intent and integrity. With competence, you have to deliver against client expectations. Integrity is about demonstrating honesty and reliability. Perception of intent is where you show you care genuinely about your client, not just yourself.

There are many scenarios where trust can be compromised. For example, if you mess up on a project and the client isn’t happy with the work you’ve produced, do you take the full money anyway and shrug your shoulders? Worse still, do you ask for more money to resolve it? This lack of integrity and selfish behaviour will destroy any trust you once had with your client, and they’ll undoubtedly walk away.

A healthy business relationship is built on trust. You have to demonstrate honesty and reliability. You have to step back and understand that it isn’t always about the money. It's someone who has come to you requesting your help. To mistreat them is like laughing callously in their face.

Be open, be honest, communicate and care about delivering the best possible outcome for your client. Do that, and you’ll never lose a client again.

Complacency sets in

Complacency is probably the most common reason why many relationships end. It’s easily done. You’ve been working together for quite a long time, and you rest on your laurels and stop trying so hard.

Combat the coasting by taking a fresh look at every client. Ask yourself the following:

  • Is there anything you could recommend to your client that will benefit their business and thus develop the relationship further?
  • What would the competition do to snatch your client away from you? What could you do instead to keep them?
  • What can you do to improve your offering and make yourself indispensable to your client?

Final word

To conclude, make a considered, daily effort to keep your clients by offering trust, quality, value for money and likability. By avoiding complacency and sincerely caring about your clients and their success, you’ll enjoy many satisfying years of repeat business.