Regardless of the services you provide, there are a variety of things almost every client needs. And as a freelancer or small business owner, meeting these needs is your responsibility.
But you might be wondering:
How do I know what a client needs? And what happens if I don’t meet these needs?
Failing to meet your clients’ needs can mean losing out on repeat business, referrals, and glowing reviews. In serious cases, your client might even decide to terminate your contract and walk away from the relationship entirely.
As far as how you know what your client needs from you in the first place, this part is surprisingly easy.
After all, most clients (whether they know it or not) are after the same things:
The number one reason why clients reach out to an outside service like yours? Because they need help.
While this might seem obvious — so obvious that it doesn’t even need stating — it can actually be extremely easy to lose sight of this fact. Especially when faced with a client that doesn’t seem to appreciate your knowledge and skill level.
When you lose sight of the fact that you’re ultimately here to help your clients, communication can quickly break down.
To ensure your clients feel like you’re here to help, it’s important that you offer chances for them to ask questions, clarify your plans, and come to you for reassurance throughout the project.
If you assume your client understands everything you’re going to do, think again. After all, they probably wouldn’t have hired you if they knew everything you do.
But as long as you offer a reasonable amount of patience and explain concepts to your client as needed, they’ll feel like you’re helping instead of bulldozing over them.
Most, if not all, clients need to know that you understand their business’ goals, mission, and overall vision for the future. If you don’t, how can they trust you to deliver the service or product that solves their current problem?
Asking questions and paraphrasing are two of the most indispensable tools when it comes to showing your client that you understand their project needs.
Paraphrasing, or repeating what someone tells you back to them, can reduce misunderstandings in any relationship. But this is especially true for client relationships.
For instance, your client could tell you that they’re looking to improve the marketing appeal of their logo design.
You could respond with, “Okay.”
Or, you could respond with something like, “Why do you feel like your current logo is missing the mark? What type of results are you looking for from your logo that you just aren’t getting right now?”
It’s easy to see how effective the latter response is, especially compared to the former.
No matter how close your relationship is to a given client, at the end of the day money must change hands.
Although it can be hard to put a value on your services, you need to ensure your clients are getting reasonable results for the price they pay. And you also need to make sure they feel like they’re getting their money’s worth.
Obviously, the first step to meeting this need is pricing your services according to your skill level, experience, and the overall market you work within.
However, making your clients feel that they’re getting a good value doesn’t need to start and end with your pricing structure.
By offering tangible results, and pointing them out to your client, you can directly show the value your services bring to their business. Whether these results take the form of raw data, customer surveys, or something else entirely, your client needs to see how your services perform in action.
No matter what type of service you provide, clients need to feel like you offer knowledge and experience they can’t find elsewhere. And even if you know that you have the expertise needed for the job, that doesn’t necessarily mean your clients feel the same level of confidence.
First, you should make sure you actually have the knowledge you claim to have — if you don’t, it’s time to reevaluate your business strategy.
There are multiple techniques to help your clients feel confident in your expertise:
- Use industry-specific language
- Avoid downplaying your abilities or experience
- Produce informational content (like newsletters or videos)
- Turn down projects that are outside of your wheelhouse
With that all said, though, be careful not to make your client feel stupid or in over their head. Your job is to show your knowledge, but with the goal of translating this information into a service your client can both use and understand.
Clients need to trust that you have their business’ best interest in mind. If they feel like you’re going to turn around and help a direct competitor, or even somehow sabotage their company, you’ll have an extremely tense working relationship.
But the need for trust also exists between just you and your client. While you complete their project, they need to know that you won’t flake out or bill them inappropriately.
It’s your job to make them feel comfortable working with you.
As with many other aspects of a healthy client relationship, communication is key. Any time you need to make changes to the project, bill an expense, or briefly step away from the project, let your client know as soon as possible.
No project will go 100 percent perfectly. But if you keep your client in the know, they won’t feel like you’re trying to pull a fast one.
As you probably already know, professional services are rarely one-size-fits-all. Instead, each client has their own expectations, goals, timeline, and budget.
So why do so many service providers approach clients with a one-track mindset?
You can help ease your clients’ worries from the very start by offering a handful of different service options. From these options, your client can then choose the one that provides exactly what they want.
If you think this means coming up with several entirely unique proposals, think again. Offering a variety of options can be as simple as creating a tiered service plans.
Ultimately, your client just needs to feel like your services are catered to them and their business. How you go about this is up to you.
You might bring the skills and expertise to the table, but working with a client still needs to be a collaborative relationship. Your clients need to feel like you’re receptive to their opinions and open to changes or revisions as the project progresses.
If you resist these requests or take full control over the project, your client might fear they won’t get the final results they want. And, honestly, this fear is justified.
Lay out terms for deadlines, revisions, and any other changing factors in your original contract. These terms should also include any applicable fees your client will need to consider if they want to make a major change to their project.
By having these terms already in writing, you can take all of the guesswork and negotiation out of any obstacles that come up.
Ideally, your client won’t need to make any such changes in the first place. But having a system in place, just in case, will be reassuring for everyone involved.
In many cases, your clients’ needs won’t stop when the project does.
Clients need to know they can come to you with problems, questions, or additional projects. And this is especially true when it comes to tech services or anything else that might need updates or troubleshooting down the road.
If your services might require maintenance in the future, include terms for this additional work in your initial contract. Many service providers will outline their hourly rate for troubleshooting or changes after the initial project is complete.
Not only will this assure your client that you’ll be available as needed, but it will also help protect you from requests for unpaid work.
Even if your services are one-and-done, keep communication with your clients open. While you should define your boundaries and be clear if something requires payment, letting your client know they can turn to you with occasional questions will help put them at ease.
How to Meet Client Needs From Start to Finish
Do you know what else clients need? A clear, easy-to-understand billing and invoicing system that doesn’t require an accounting degree to figure out.
Professional invoices, like those created with invoicely, don’t just look good. They’re also easier for your clients to track, catalog, and even pay.
After all, your clients’ needs don’t start and end with their contract. And neither should your efforts to meet these needs.
Learn more about invoicely and how you can create pro-quality, streamlined invoices with the simple click of a button.