Running your own business (and if you are a freelancer you are running a business) is a multifaceted and complex process. You have to take care of logistics, financial issues, and marketing yourself so your clients/buyers can find you.
Well, then you have to actually communicate with your clients.
Client communication can make or break your business. You’ve probably heard the old adage, “The customer is always right.” You may have even worked in retail or a business where you had to provide customer service and your supervisors parroted the phrase over and over.
Well, friend, times have changed.
Leading Your Clients
Customer service is still important. In fact, it’s the foundation of your success as a business owner. But that doesn’t mean the client runs your relationship.
Your clients should be valued. They deserve respect and your best work. But as a business owner, you have to understand and acknowledge that they, in fact, are NOT always right. (Cue gasps of disbelief.) That’s right, I said it.
I work with graphic designers, writers, lawyers, coaches, educators, and other professionals who constantly encounter clients who are sure they know what they want or need. Sometimes it’s necessary to explain why what they want isn’t possible. Other times a better solution may be available or a solid “no” is called for.
The Importance of Client Management
When working as an employee for a larger organization, it’s possible to never communicate directly with the clients. The team lead, supervisor, or customer care team handles all communication.
As a business owner/freelancer, that important task now falls to you.
Okay. That’s not a problem, right? We just find out what they need, do it, send it to them, and we’re done.
Well, not quite.
Many small businesses and freelancers fail because they struggle in the area of client management and communication. How do you avoid failure? You lead your clients through your partnership as you work toward a common goal.
Sometimes that means having a difficult conversation with a client. Sometimes it means declining to work with a client who isn’t a good fit. It always means setting clear boundaries, making sure your contract is fair for both parties and maintaining control of how you run your business.
From basic client communication to dealing with those tricky conversations, my upcoming book, Who’s the Boss? is the resource you need to improve your client relationships through clear, concise communication and a people-centered client management approach. You’ll be leading your clients to success before you know it!
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