There are many reasons why clients might leave. For the most part, the decision is out of your control and nothing personal. Your loyal contact might've left. They may have run out of budget. Or it could be that they decided to hire skills internally.
But sometimes, the decision can be your fault. This is where you need to take a long hard look at yourself and consider honestly if you could've done things differently to convince them to stay. Because when you freelance or run a small agency, keeping existing clients happy is far easier than winning new ones. Here, we examine the top five mistakes to avoid if you want your clients to stay.
1. You don't show them enough love
Everyone wants to feel special. As though they're the most important person in the world. Clients are the same. Show them lots of love and they'll be eating out of the palm of your hand. How? You make them feel as though they're your one and only. That only they count. You drop everything for them. You go the extra mile. You always consider their needs. Do the opposite and they'll feel unloved and unworthy, perhaps leaving you to find someone who will give them the attention they crave.
2. You're too busy or slow to respond
With the above in mind, if you're not quick to reply to emails and calls, a client might wonder if you truly care. Like a jealous lover, they hate knowing you have other clients. They understand you have them. They just don't want to know about them. They want to feel as though they're a priority. Yes, this might mean some juggling. But happy clients – ones who will gladly stay with you – are ones that feel loved, special and more important than anyone else.
3. You're no longer providing any value
Never ever allow a client to assume they can do what you do. Ever. Always push to advance your skills and knowledge. Go above and beyond to add extra value wherever possible. You never want your client to sit there and think, "why am I paying all this money when I can do it myself". Or perhaps replace you with someone internally. You might "upsell" your skills and offer an additional service. You could simply be proactive and regularly make suggestions to help your client improve. Not only will you secure more work, you'll prove yet again how invaluable you are.
4. You're ignoring the importance of rewarding loyalty
Your client has been with you for several years and that's a celebration in itself. They've stayed true and loyal to you, so it's only right that you return the sentiment. Never make the dreaded mistake of forgetting that loyalty. You owe them. Big time. That doesn't mean you have to make decisions that impact negatively on your business. Gosh, no. I'm talking about the occasional discount on project costs – why not? You've made loads of money out of them, what's 10% off your usual price? Return the loyalty and they'll love you forever.
5. You're focusing too much on making money
If money is all you care about, it will be obvious. A client knows that they're hiring you for a fee. They understand that you have bills to pay. They just don't want to think that's all you care about. They want to feel that you love their business as much as they do. And that means sometimes throwing in the odd freebie. You certainly don't want to become one of those agencies that charges £3,000 for a 10-minute job. You'll be ratted out in the end and potentially damage your reputation locally as a business only interested in money.
If you avoid these top five mistakes, your client is more likely to stay and always be true to you. Keep in mind the following to keep them happy: exceed expectations and be easily available; always put your client first – drop everything to be there for them; don't forget to book in regular face-to-face meetings to maintain a good relationship, and be easy to deal with and provide service with a breeze.
Also, be proactive and make suggestions that will help your client to improve; deal with any issues and solve problems swiftly; care deeply about a positive outcome for your client's business, and remember the importance of rewarding client loyalty.
You should also constantly review your service to your client and find ways to do much better. Finally, don't forget that your client is a person – be someone they enjoy doing business with.
Main image: Courtesy of KaboomPics