Providing a superior customer experience is imperative to success. This doesn’t just go for ghostwriters, either. Freelancers in every industry need to offer clients a pleasant experience. Unfortunately, a lot of “professionals” come off as too brazen. How does one exude confidence without being cocky?
Know What Clients Want
A client wants a professional that will offer the best value for the work he or she needs. What a lot of freelancers don’t consider is value also includes personal interaction. This is in addition to respect of the client and the task at hand.
In reality, clients are more apt at paying higher prices to someone who offers a superior experience. A professional that is easier to engage, understands and offers quality work is far more valuable than the best freelancer in the world with a poor attitude.
Consider the open market for freelancers that is available on the Internet today. If clients do not like your personality, it is fairly easy to replace you. It also essentially eliminates the possibility of that client ever coming back.
And that’s the key to succeeding as a freelancer. It’s better to develop a strong relationship with a client who will potentially toss more work your way than simply doing one job. It’s all about repeat business…something that won’t happen if you seem overly brash in your interactions.
Being Confident in Your Abilities
It’s OK to be confident in your skill set. However, you need to know where the line is between confidence and conceit. More often than not, conceited individuals receive less work. Especially if you’re in an industry that has a wide selection of professionals at the ready.
Take ghostwriting, for example. I can’t count the number of times clients have come to me after being mistreated by another author only to have them send me boat loads of work because I am respectful. One particular client has retained me indefinitely because I am both superior at my work and incredibly easy to get along with.
And no, I’m not being conceited. I am merely confident as expressed by the number of clients I have worked with over the years.
For those who do not know, a retainer is when you’re paid regardless of the workflow. These are some of the best contracts to get into because it virtually guarantees a steady stream of income as long as you can meet the goals surrounding the contract.
Here are six elements that I provide to my clients that may help you prevent being brassy while expressing confidence.
1. Listen to the Needs of the Client
There’s no doubt that you have skills the client can benefit from. He or she already knows that, which is why the client came to you in the first place. However, this person needs certain done work a specific way. Don’t try to over think the project and just absorb the details.
It’s key to listen to the client’s needs and wants in full. A lot of the time, your questions will be answered by letting the individual finish. Never interrupt when someone is describing the work he or she needs done.
The best thing to do is take notes during the introduction. Write down key elements that you need to address with the party. That way, you can come back with any questions you have after the client has described the project.
2. Questions Solve Confusion
It’s always better to question details. When I was CEO of the computer center, I preferred staff ask questions rather than make mistakes. Misunderstandings can cost time, which decreases how much you’re worth per hour. Like I tell anyone who works for me, “It’s better to have it done right the first time…ask questions.”
Most clients like the idea of a professional who asks questions regarding the project. It demonstrates two very important things: that you’re listening and that you want to deliver the best work possible. For a lot of people, this is a valuable asset.
3. Offer Opinions without Forcefulness
Now here is where a lot of professionals can lose clients. Offering opinions is often welcome unless you seem overly pushy with the ideas. Some of the best ways to approach a project is by asking two simple questions:
- Why would you like it done this way?
- Would you be opposed to something like this?
In most cases, it’s all in how you offer suggestions and opinions. If you make it seem like you’re challenging a client’s authority, he or she is more likely to drop you as a freelancer.
Never argue with the client. If he or she does not want it done your way, then that is how it will be. Even if the client wants something you believe to be completely asinine, and trust me you will come across a few, the job needs to be done.
In many cases after a project is complete, the client may come back and take you up on your suggestion in a second project. There have been times when I made suggestions to website owners who did not want content done my way. After providing them with what they wanted and being paid for the work, many have come back for a second job using my ideas.
When you make a suggestion, most clients will listen. A lot of them will remember your sage advice and come back for more work to be done while giving you additional freedom to complete the task.
4. Use Easy Terminology
No one is impressed by your understanding of terminology. Using excessively long and complicated words is a good way to lose the attention of clients. The person hiring you already assumes you know what you’re talking about, otherwise he or she wouldn’t hire you.
It’s been my experience those who toss out words like they’re reading from a thesaurus are the ones who are less “likeable” to clients. While some clients maybe on a higher level than most, it’s still good to start off with simple language and work your way up to the client’s level of understanding.
This is where it can be tricky. A client wants to feel smart. Letting him or her take the lead during a conversation is a way to reinforce this.
Consider the average Internet user is less likely to comprehend medical reports if it exceeds a 7th-grade reading level. In fact, a lot of SEO experts attest to how advanced language use in any website article is less than ideal. This is why most successful blog posts have a reading level below 9th grade.
This is perhaps one of my biggest failings as a professional. There was a reason why I hired someone to manage the store front of the computer business. Not because I am conceited, but because I have been accused of making customers feel “stupid.”
It’s not my intention, I just think on a higher plain than most customers. This lead me to create content that was too clinical in nature for most clients. I had to adapt my abilities and thinking processes.
Needless to say, I have come a long way since 2012. Clients seem to love me more than not nowadays. It’s a skill I had to learn very quickly to keep working.
5. Remember Who Is Paying You
A client is paying you to perform a specific task in a precise way. And that is what you need to provide. After all, he or she is helping you pay your bills. If the individual likes your work, the client may be back for more.
Never provide substandard services because you don’t agree with clients. Word of mouth travels fast, and you could find yourself on the back-end of a bad reputation among others. This is especially true today thanks to the power of social media.
In a nut shell, you don’t want to blackball yourself simply because you didn’t agree with someone or offered inferior work.
I’ve completed some very unusual projects for clients that made absolutely no sense from an SEO or content marketing perspective. But, it’s how the client wanted it done. They are paying me for my ability to give them want they want. And that’s how it should be.
It’s OK to refuse work from a client. Just keep in mind that once you turn someone down for a job, it’s less likely you’ll see that person ever again in a professional setting. Make sure you’re turning down projects for good reasons.
6. Always Deliver Maximum Effort
A professional attitude can go a long way in the eyes of those hiring you to do a job. If you put in maximum effort in every task, you may find some of those disagreeable clients to be more malleable later on. A lot of them will even test your skills in the beginning and then give you free run afterwards.
Maximum effort in any industry opens doors to greater possibilities. Even if you’re a cashier at a fast-food restaurant, being the best cashier there is increases the likelihood of advancement and raises.
Case in point, my retainer tested me out for a year almost on a daily basis. The company realizes the potential I offer and understand that I am very good at what I do. Because of this, they contract me to work indefinitely with the company. A lot of my restrictions are lifted, and I have a bit more creative freedom than I did in the past.
You Don’t Have to Show Off…
Although some people can get away with being cocky, it’s never a good way to entrench yourself. Be confident in what you provide, but don’t be forceful when it comes to opinions and suggestions. You don’t have to show off to earn the respect of a client.