It can be a fine balance so here are some tips to help:

1. Be a Problem Solver

Sometimes a client asks for something that isn't right for them. Your task is to understand their needs but also provide them with a more suitable solution to meet their vision. If you can do this and convince them it is the better choice they know that you care about their business.

2. Provide Top-Notch Customer Service

Consistency is key whenever you secure a new client. Always keep your promises, respond to their emails and send reports and updates as agreed. Treating them with respect always makes clients more loyal. Also remember that just like you, your client may have a bad day so be sure to empathize. Build a personal relationship by remembering key events. Small things help them feel valued by your business.

3. Respond Positively to Negative Feedback

It can be hard not to take negative feedback personally and it is natural to feel put off when someone doesn't like your work. Try to stay detached and objective. Could you make positive improvements as a result of their feedback? Once you can accept there is a problem then you can offer to fix it. If there is no problem with the work explain calmly why this is, put yourself in your client's shoes and avoid arguments. Work towards building better communication and working relationships.

4. Be a Lifelong Learner

Learn from your mistakes and take personal responsibility when you make them. This encourages the client to see you as mature and trustworthy. Be objective when analyzing where something went wrong and see what led to the mistake so that when you next encounter the problem you l know what to avoid.

5. Consistent Communication

Communication must be truthful, accurate and transparent if you are to keep your clients happy. Clients tend not to like surprises so while consistency may not seem very exciting it is what the client appreciates. Meet expectations and if something is wrong, tell them sooner rather than later, it gives them more sense of control and encourages trust.

6. Stay Flexible

It takes a long time to create trust and while you need to keep track of budget it is important to be flexible when charging. Striking a balance between charging for every little task and not being taken advantage of can be tricky but for a couple of bucks is it worth ruining your working relationship and reputation? One-off minor changes on a large project for a valuable client can be a good opportunity to build the relationship by waiving the fee. If, however, the changes become frequent, it is reasonable to levy a charge.

7. “Under Promise and over Deliver”

This is a well-used expression for good reason. Always be aware of your strengths and weaknesses when starting a project so you know that you can meet any promises you make. If you under promise you will be able to produce the product for the client on time and often over their expectations. This will mean improved trust, confidence and business relationships and will also mean you stand to get a lot more word-of-mouth referrals.

8. Keep It Real

Estimates must be realistic. Overoptimistic budgets or delivery deadlines can set you up to fail or cause delays that undermine client confidence. Clients are happier when realistic budgets and timescales set than they are having their expectations raised and then dashed.

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