First I would like to express my deepest gratitude to all our clients who have been loyal to us over the past few years and friends and family for loving and cheering us on.
2011 was a tough year with a heavy dose of challenges and opposition and yet we walk away from the year with an even greater resolve to keep going forward. We’ve had some successes and sad to say, failures as well but we end the year with a surplus of good. Throughout all our experiences, we are keen to make note of the lessons to be learned in business and especially relationships.
We take this opportunity to share with you a few invaluable lessons we learned while working with our web development clients and hope you can apply them to your life and business.
Most Prospects Just Want Someone to Talk to
Its as basic as that, clients just want someone to talk to. It is very important to remember that clients are emotional, they are humans and they need their requests to be satisfied on every level and its not solely about getting the work done. There are quite a few prospects who contact me who complain that of contacting an average of 3 to 5 web design companies, we were the only ones who actually had a frank discussion with them about their needs. Other “larger” web design firms refuse to talk and developers are guarded by receptionists and sales reps who will not divulge information about what it will take to get the job done but would rather have the customer wait in queue for someone to call back and take them on a bureaucratic merry-go-round.
Most prospects have very basic knowledge about the web and need someone to guide them. They know the end result but they may have no clue on how to get there. Take the time to listen and educate your prospects. This builds trust since you have empowered them to make the right decisions before they have spent a dime; and we all know that trust is what secures business.
Keep It Simple
Quite a few clients have expressed that they feel foolish asking certain questions because they consider themselves “technologically impaired” or just way out of the loop. As techies, our demeanor may tend to be tough and can be at times aggressive and impatient based on the vast knowledge we have of the field. Be humble, show them that you care by having a “real” down to earth conversation and not one filled with jargon.
Forget jargon unless you are specifically asked about it. When the customer understands what it will take to complete a project, understands and can relate to its vast benefits, when you can clearly express their vision in a manner that they may not have initially been able to articulate, you will have won their hearts. There’s nothing more satisfying to a prospect at the beginning of a project than knowing that you understand and can share their vision.
Be Available & Offer Updates
Ensure that your clients can reach you. As developers, we can get very busy, balancing programming and design with life can be a mammoth task but let’s keep it simple here – just be there to talk when clients need you. Preempt your clients by offering frequent updates on the work you’re doing for them, show them that their timeline is important to you. They will appreciate this and helps build trust and respect for the work you’re doing. When they reach out, ensure you are available to communicate.
Your Business Has Multi-Million Dollar Potential
Especially, for freelancers, never consider your business to be just an “on the side thing.” The effects of that approach creeps its way into your attitude towards your work and eventually results become lackluster. If you’re not in it for the long-haul then forget it.
Print business cards, design a letterhead, have a dedicated number for customer queries and clients, use invoices and receipts, register your domain and setup your personalized email, just do things big! Visualize yourself and your company at its best and operate on that level at all times. Clients will notice, respect your work and appreciate the value you bring to the table.
Honesty is Still the Best Policy
Maintaining integrity in business is an integral component for long-term success. Unfortunately, there is bad within every set of good ventures. Do not follow in the footsteps of those who have disappointed customers and have not made an effort to make amends. Ensure that clients receive what they pay for. Establish policies and terms and conditions and stick to them. Offer a realistic timeline that you can satisfy comfortably, never promise more than you can give just for the sake of securing business. Be honest.
Match the Customer’s Profile
A basic rule in customer service is listening and understanding your customers and prospects. Some know exactly what they’re talking about and know the technologies while others need guidance. Listening is the key to figuring out the task at hand and the client’s needs – it sounds simple but many of us don’t listen and tend to ignore the fine details. Remember, gems are hidden within the details. Once you get an appreciation of the prospect’s status then you will be excellent at articulating their vision and showing them how everything will work. This ultimately leads to sealing the deal.
2012 has started great and learning is a never ending journey. We look forward to more throughout the year and strive towards even greater accomplishments while we wish the same for you.
Whether you are a customer, prospect or fellow developer, please share your thoughts and experiences with us in the comments section below. We look forward to hearing from you.