Let me tell you about the crazy, “non-working” day I had last week. So many events happened, and although none of them were anticipated – they all share the same unique trait. Trust, which goes both ways between client and you. And trust, especially with services industry, is a tough currency to find and retain.
So here we are, mid-March, mid-week. I had this whole plan to spend the entire day with my kids. It’s Spring break, grandparents have helped a bit – but the kids want to stay at home. So instead of my usual routine, just being cooped upstairs in the office, occasionally checking up on them, I cleared up a few hours, put urgent projects on ice, and decided we spend a day together. Board games, movie marathons, Lego… Some creative cooking while mom’s away.
And most of it went according to the plan. Except with a few unplanned email interruptions. I just have to share these with you – to emphasize just how important it is to have an honest, open line of communications with your clients.
Client A suddenly contacts me for technology recommendations for a new initiative they’ll implement later this year. It’s not a part of any projects I’m currently involved in, it’s not related to anything I’ve done with this client in the past – brand new idea, brand new tech. I’m happy to advise and help, and share whatever knowledge I have. Quickly, Client replies that many elements are still to be confirmed, some stuff is not certain, but I should definitely be involved with this. I agree. Something new to learn – and it comes from a company that wants to do more business – I’m sold. I’m not even sure what it is, but I’m happy to help out.
Later in the day, a Developer I occasionally work with, reaches out to me – he’s found some database structure anomalies in a content project he’s involved with, and wanted to flag it to me, perhaps we can tackle it together, or learn something from it. First, he doesn’t need to report this to me – our work intersects often, but we’re both independently freelancing. Second, it’s not really a problem for me to fix, it’s a whole other Client and project that I’m not familiar with. But I’m all in, because it’s just a simple fellow invitation to tackle a tech mystery together. The same way two mathematicians would try to crack an equation. Just for our own curiosity. I agree, of course, and love the fact that he reached out, assuming that I’m both interested and available. I guess I’m putting a database manager hat on later this month.
Later in the same day, Client B, with whom I interact infrequently, has reached out in panic. Their domain registrar messed something up, domain name expired, they had downtime, and took most of the morning figuring out what happened, why nobody got notified of domain expiration. I help them out, of course, discovering along the way the messy registrar-> domain manager-> domain host-> webmaster setup they have, suggesting consolidation of services, regular checkups on points of contact, notification redundancy, automation, so these things do not happen in the future. Eventually, the conversation ends with us agreeing to work on more ‘web stuff’ together, along the lines of ‘why didn’t we consolidate more services with you earlier, Dmitry?’ I’m just glad that fire was put out quickly, and the site is up and running.
And finally, just before 5pm, another email interruption to an otherwise fun-filled day with the kids. Client C, who owes me some feedback on a design project, quickly emailed, assuring that the project is on track, deadlines have shifted a bit, because she’s been sick a few days, and will follow up the next day, with proper, detailed feedback. “No worries, we’ll catch up shortly, Dmitry.” Now, that’s just solid, reliable communication loop – how often do you get a heads-up from the client, to remind you that feedback is coming, but not just yet? How often do you get a client who reassures you of shifting timeline, keeps you in the loop, and sends over something comforting, rather than chaotic or surprising, just before 5pm? You’ve had these exact situations – admit, it’s tempting to tackle this the next morning, or the next week. And many people still do – leave things overnight, leave your designer in the dark. Delay the feedback.
These few email exchanges just illustrated that I have healthy business relationships with these people – beyond mere digital services or tech support. These relationships are grounded in trust and transparency. If I can be of assistance, even as an advisor, I step up – and more importantly – deliver. Which in turn makes these clients reach out to me with more requests, sometimes even very vague concepts – where I may not even be required. We solve problems together – technology, business, design, marketing, operations – and we keep the communication lines open to whatever concerns – or opportunities – may come up.
Which is a long way to say – become your client’s advisor, be transparent with your messaging, and deliver quality work. Earn their trust, and they’ll come back to you for more.
More your business from the “yay, more work” to the “yay, new relationship” model. Or, if you want to do baby-steps, move from “yay, more work” to “yay, more work from the same client”. That, in itself, is a milestone.
Speaking of building new relationships, is there anything you’re currently not getting from your site? Your analytics not giving you the numbers you expect? Is your current hosting provider or marketing agency not able to deliver on some KPIs? Suspect you’re overspending on your digital/mobile/social presence? Or maybe you just want to simplify your web operations?
Why not shoot me a quick email, and share what’s your concern. What is the problem you’re trying to solve? Let me help you solve it today >>
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