When freelancing or working in a client-facing field, building trust is invaluable. Not only to the current working relationship but also for your future relationships, referrals, and building a reputation for your brand. Trust is the foundation to the success of your business.
TRUST YOUR CLIENTS
‘The best way to find out if you can trust somebody is to trust them.”Ernest Hemingway
Before your clients can trust you, you have to trust them. The biggest piece of this is setting up an onboarding process that lets you scan for red flags and clients that you don’t work well with.
HERE ARE A FEW RED FLAGS TO SCAN FOR:
- Communication issues (can be too little or too much)
- Clients that talk ill of previous designers
- Clients that question your rates or don’t see your value
- Clients that question boundaries that you set in your business
Don’t be afraid to say no if a client is not a right fit!
ACTIVELY LISTEN TO YOUR CLIENTS
This may sound like an obvious one but it is surprising how many people don’t actually listen to clients and just follow their processes without any customizations for client’s needs. You don’t need to make each client’s experience completely different but it is important to make sure the client is comfortable enough to build trust.
Specific to brand design, listening to clients’ future plans for their brand and having a detailed questionnaire helps with this piece. I make sure to ask about future goals for the business.
I also find that listening to clients about their biggest concerns with the project really helps break down the barriers to trust. Making sure to address them continuously throughout working with the client and set up clear forms of communication.
This might seem like another no-brainer, but a lot of creatives don’t answer emails, meet deadlines, or fulfill deliverables on time. I have always taken this skill for granted until I had countless clients complement my promptness and my processes. This is definitely a skill that will keep clients coming back and referrals rolling in.
HAVE A CLEAR PROCESS AND EDUCATE YOUR CLIENTS
For internal workings, it is great to have a solid process in place to keep your work consistent and make things easier day-to-day. Then make sure to advertise this process and educate your clients on it before starting the job as well. This keeps everyone on the same page and aware of what’s to come. My top tip for staying on top of a process/time is to always have a CTA (call to action) in every email or on every call, what is next, who has to do it, and when it has to be done.
SET CLEAR BOUNDARIES AND EXPECTATIONS
This is an extension on having set processes, also having a set way of boundaries and expectations and a way to show them to your clients. I do this in my welcome guide. This gives clients a clear picture of what’s to come and builds trust.
BE AUTHENTIC AND BE YOURSELF
The top tip is to be you! Nothing builds trust like being your authentic self.
Author: Emma McGoldrick of ESM Creative Studio