Most people think that getting a new client or a new customer is the hardest part of the process. Yes, gaining new business is difficult but retaining the business and fostering trust and loyalty over a long period of time is whole other ballgame. Here are five steps I’ve used to gain success with long-term clients:
1: Don’t wait until they ask for a status update.
Your client has already gone through an entire thought process before they picked up the phone or typed out the email that says “Where are we on _____?” Don’t wait to be asked about what you’re working on because somewhere in your client’s thought process, they wondered what the hell you’ve been doing with your time. Communicate (or even over-communicate) with your client about the status of open projects.
2. Over-deliver without under-promising.
There’s the old adage of “under-promise and over-deliver.” That’s a really crappy game to play. Be honest about promising the client what you can do for them, and then make a promise to yourself that you’ll do even better.
3. Beat the deadline – always.
Deadlines are like speed limits on the road. Deadlines are the absolute latest you should turn in your work and not a minute (or hour) later. Meeting a deadline is meh, but beating deadlines can make you a rock star.
4. Hold your work to a higher standard than anyone else.
Never say that something is “good enough” and hope that no one notices otherwise. Double and triple check your work so that it’s bulletproof. If you have a nagging feeling that you should fact-check something, then take a few extra minutes and do it. Your client will appreciate that what you do for them is always trouble-free.
5. Be responsive, but have boundaries too.
Connect with your client on a human level. After all, we all have homes, spouses, pets or kids that need our time outside of work. However, some clients or customers may tell you they want 24/7 access to you. Be clear about the boundary between work and home, but have some leeway for one communication channel that works for you both. (For example, I don’t accept phone calls after business hours but I will take a few moments to respond to emails later in the evening.)