As an independent graphic designer there are many things you have to juggle for your business but one of the most important things you should focus on is providing great customer service. One way of providing great customer service is to make sure you do your follow ups. This shows your clients just how important they are to you. This minor step can sometimes be the difference of receiving the work and down the road receiving a glowing recommendation. Follow ups can fall into a couple of different categories. There are the follow ups you do to land a project and then there are the follow ups you do after the project is completed.
These follow ups are usually the ones that come after your first meeting with a potential client and also can be the ones that you do after you send out a proposal or contract. Personally these tend to be the ones that I feel are a bit more important because they help you land work.
After I meet with a client, within a day or so I usually write an email thanking them for their time and asking if they may have any further questions they have thought of after we met. This email is completely separate from any proposals or contracts. It is to show the client that they are important and that I am there to provide answers. Clients want to feel their project is going to receive the best attention it can and following up after a meeting shows them that this is going to happen. It gives a client confidence in you as a designer and helps build a solid business relationship. It is important to remember to continue the communication if they do have more questions. Answer them quickly and clearly so that they know you are there to provide great customer service.
Once I send out a proposal or contract I usually follow up with in 2 to 3 days. With the overload of information we all receive online today it is very easy for an email to get lost. Not to mention that it is also possible an email ends up in the junk or SPAM folder. It’s important to follow up for these reasons and again it shows your client just how important their project is to you. My first follow up after the proposal or contract goes out is usually another email but if I have not heard back with in 24 hours of that email I do pick up the phone and call the client. As much as this is providing good customer service, this is also about getting the project rolling. So it’s very beneficial for your own business to do these follow up emails and calls.
When a project comes to a close and you receive your final payment from the client, it’s a pretty good feeling. It’s probably the same for the client. They have their new web site, Facebook Business Page, direct mail piece or any other of the great products designers bring to life. This is a perfect time to show your client another step in great customer service and do a follow up with them. Specifically I like to send out a “Thank You” card to my clients after we have completed a project. Telling them that I appreciate their business and wishing them luck with their new product. This simple “Thank You” is a lost art as Jeff Fisher of LogoMotives explains in his blog post “The lost art of the thank you note.”
As well as the initial follow up to thank your client, it is important to check back in with them a month or so down the road. This serves more than one purpose. First it allows you to see how things are going with the client and their new product. It also allows you to give them a gentle reminder that you are available for any other design projects that they may be looking to have worked on. While newsletters and email campaigns are a great way to do this as well, I think it is important the first month or so after a project is complete to make the follow up a little more personal. Again this shows great customer service and shows your clients that they are not just a number or a pay check.
These simple follow ups can help grow your relationships with your clients. This is extremely important as an independent designer because networking is key. Happy clients give glowing testimonials and recommendations. Happy clients bring you more work and direct more work from others your way. Treating your clients as more than just what the project is that you are working on for them, builds stronger business relationships. Providing great customer service is almost a sure fire way to a happy client.
Follow ups are one of the most important parts of great customer service. As an independent designer you have to be more than just a designer. You have to be the friendly face of your business. Show your clients just how important they are to your business and follow up with them!
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