In the creative industry, a good rep is worth its weight in gold. But what really keeps clients happy? We pass on some revealing truths.
01: Become an ambassador
Clients love it when you believe in their brand as much as they do. So be enthusiastic about the work and spread the word through your own contacts and tweets and put it into your portfolio. Then show your client.
02: Offer value
You're in a competitive market so think about what extras you can offer clients. This could be as simple as working in-house, seeking out cheaper suppliers for them or even offering to help out with extra workloads if you have the time.
03: Contact is key
A 2010 Design Council report ranks good communication as the number two priority in terms of what clients look for in a designer or agency. This doesn't mean answering calls at 4am, but it does mean being prompt in replying to emails and making time for meetings and conference calls.
The number one priority for clients in choosing designers is an ability to listen. Clients love it when you make their jobs easier, so returning a week into the project to clarify the brief because you switched off in the meeting isn't recommended.
05: Be nice
It's amazing how many professionals forget that straightforward civility goes a long way. If you're a pleasure to deal with, energetic and polite, you'll get repeat business. Behave like a teething toddler or a hard-nosed corporate caricature, and you'll quickly get under your client's skin.
06: Accept blame
Don't cede responsibility for any mistakes or errors you make. Acknowledge them, and then tell your client how you'll fix them. Ignoring problems only makes them worse. And refusing to accept liability for them makes you look untrustworthy, and you'll be much less likely to be employed again.
Send emails, cards, cakes - whatever's appropriate - to your clients when the situation deems it suitable. Make a note of your project's live date and send your client a good luck message. Take an interest in how a project is doing a few months after it launches.
08: Make an appearance
A freelance illustrator for Computer Arts insists in hand delivering his work rather than FTPing it. When he turns up he talks through the work for immediate feedback, and brings cakes and cookies to brighten an otherwise ordinary day.
09: Show your loyalty
It's a tough ask in the current economy, but have a degree of loyalty. If you're approached by a competitor to your client, think long and hard before taking the work. Similarly, pass on any news you might hear on the design grapevine. Your clients will soon learn to value you for more than your design skills.
10: Get to know your clients
It sounds sycophantic, but it works. If you know that your client is a die-hard Manchester United fan, have a chat about the weekend's results. If they have a family, ask after them. If clients feel they can trust and confide in you, they'll feel more comfortable hiring you again.