The Designer Client Relationship.
Whenever you take on a new client, be it for a single project or an ongoing campaign, you are in essence forming a relationship with them. And for any good relationship to succeed there has to be communication both ways. Just as a husband and wife must communicate to have a successful marriage, there must to be a line of communication between you and your client. I'm not just talking about communicating the specs of a project either. If you're not happy with the way your client is providing files to you, such as the dreaded photos embedded in Word documents, you tell them. This line of communication should go both ways but often times clients don't address the issues bothering them. So how do you fix this? Simple, ask them.
Getting The Feedback You Are Looking for.
One simple way of getting feedback from your design clients is to send them a short survey after each project. Your survey should contain no more than three questions. Were you happy with the service I provided you? Were you happy with the product I provided you? Is there anything I could have done better? Simple, to the point, and the responses will be invaluable to your business. The problem with this approach is you will most likely only receive feedback from new clients. Ongoing clients who have replied to your survey in the past will probably ignore future surveys.
So what do you do? You contact your ongoing clients personally and on a regular basis. Set up a schedule to contact your best, ongoing customers monthly and your regular recurring clients quarterly. An email could go something like this.
Thanks for all the work you've given me this past month. You've kept me quite busy. I just wanted to touch base and make sure you are happy with the service I'm providing. It's not always easy for me to pinpoint shortcomings from my end. Is there anything I can improve on to strengthen our relationship?
Thanks for the projects you've sent me this year. I enjoyed working with you on them and want to make sure you are happy with my services. Is there anything you can think of that I can improve on that would help strengthen our relationship?
If you highlight that this is a relationship you are in, the client will be more inclined to reach out to you for future projects.
This method works great being more personal than just sending a survey. But for your really good clients you should step it up one notch and phone them or meet them in person. Ask “how's our relationship these days? Are you happy with the services I'm providing?” Once you get the conversation started and your client realizes you are sincere in wanting an honest answer, they'll open up. You can gain valuable information from them to take your relationship and business to the next level.
Working Out A Strategy.
So you're probably thinking “I'm not going to call my clients each month and ask them the same question. They'll think I'm nuts”. You'd be right unless you establish a strategy first. You're going to want to contact your regular and ongoing design clients and let them know beforehand. Tell them their satisfaction is important to you and that you would like to touch base with them on a regular basis to see how things stand. If all is good then great, you want to hear it. But if there are any problems you want to know about them so you can address, and rectify them right away.
The whole point of this is to keep the relationship communications open. If everything is good you can thank them and tell them how much you appreciate their business. If things are not good you have a chance to find a solution and prevent the relationship from festering and possibly loosing the client.