The relationship you maintain with your clients is an essential part of being a good developer. Even if you have a talent in development and design, if you don’t nurture those client relationships, you may find a lack of work. Here are some habits to develop when working with clients that will improve your overall status in the development world.
1. Stay In Contact
The number one rule of any relationship is communication. Staying in frequent communication with your clients is essential to building and maintaining that relationship. Clients enjoy updates on their projects and getting to know who’s working for them.
Emails, calls, video chats, or even a simple text message (though the latter is less formal) are all great ways to keep clients updated. Good communication also helps narrow down the client’s expectations, thus eliminating confusion during the project.
As you work through your project, it’s a good idea to give your client a status update at the onset of each new step. For instance, if you’re using wire frame tools, involve your client in the wireframing process so they can get a good idea of how the project will be laid out.
Once you’ve nailed down your communication method, be sure to stay updated with old clients as well. Maintaining those old relationships is important for new leads or even referrals. Don’t let a good connection fade away, give them a call!
2. Involve The Client In Your Design Process
This goes hand-in-hand with good communication. Keeping the client involved in the design process can mean the difference between catching errors early on and having to make costly edits later in the process.
Keep your client involved by letting them see your work as it progresses. When using a wireframe, it’s especially important to get the client’s input on the basic structure of the website, app, or software. Clients may change their minds on certain elements of the project once they see it in a mockup or wireframe.
In addition to catching errors, keeping clients involved show them you respect their wishes for the design and are willing to listen to suggestions.
Being easy to work with goes a long way when you’re looking for referrals or new leads. Let’s be honest, no one wants to work with someone who makes things more difficult.
3. Be Honest About Cost
When you’re trying to land a contract, it’s easy to get ahead of yourself and distort the numbers to make your services seem more affordable. Development is not a “cheap” process by any means, but not being honest about cost up front with your clients can be detrimental to the relationship.
The last thing a client wants is to be quoted a price only to have it adjusted upwards at the end of the project. When you’re giving price estimates, be sure to truly take the time to calculate the cost of the project. Leave some wiggle room in your estimate for scope creep or changes later on.
An honest price is always better than a conflated one. Clients will appreciate the honesty, and if the project ends up costing less than the original estimate, they’ll be satisfied that it turned out cheaper than the original quote. Be honest, account for all the details, and give your clients the confidence to utilize your services in the future.
4. Familiarize Your Team
If you’re the team lead, you’ll likely have the most interaction with your clients, but it’s important to make the team aware of the client and vice versa. Introduce your team to the client so that they know who they’re working for, and so the client knows the people working on their project.
Familiarity helps build relationships, and when you create a high-quality product for the client, they’ll remember the all-star team that was behind it. In the business world, it’s easy to get caught up in prices and numbers and forget the very human element behind it all.
Human relationships are what drive businesses and help make the connections that lead to more work and important standing in the community. Familiarize clients with your team for a more personal relationship and a better understanding of the client’s motives.
5. Don’t Inflate Promises
We all want to nail down that big contract. It means more money, more exposure, and new client connections, but we often find ourselves caught up in the excitement of it all and forget the limitations of our team and our own abilities.
When you take on a project, it’s just as important to be honest about your team’s abilities as it is to be honest about the overall cost. Clients want to feel confident in your work, and the first time you make a promise you can’t keep, that confidence will likely be shaken.
If you come across a project that will likely take four weeks to complete, don’t tell a client you can do it in two just to land the contract. When you fail to deliver in two weeks as promised, your entire team’s professional reputation takes a blow.
Not to mention the stress that trying to squeeze a four-week project into a two week time period causes for you and your team. Keep things realistic, and be aware of your team’s abilities before you take on projects. Honesty is always the best policy when it comes to the client.
A client relationship shouldn’t be treated any differently than your personal relationships. Honesty, communication, and trust help to foster healthy relationships and will encourage clients to come to you with future projects.