Good or bad client communication as a freelancer can make or break your business. Here you'll learn how to work with clients, make a positive impression and, at best, get hired again.
Why client communication is so important for freelancers
As a freelancer, your business depends on getting work – from existing or new clients. With potential clients, communication plays an important role and often determines whether you get the job or not.
And your relationship with your existing clients determines whether they will hire you again in the future and whether they will recommend you to other businesses. Therefore, it is important that you convince them with good and professional client communication.
You'll also make your own life easier if you always communicate clearly and efficiently. There will be fewer misunderstandings and the collaboration will be more successful.
Basics of client communication
What exactly is client communication all about? One important element is recognizing and understanding the needs and expectations of your clients. Only then can you provide exactly the service they want.
In addition, it is especially important for long-term client relationships that you build trust. This is how you will be hired again and again. It goes without saying that you should always act and communicate professionally, but at the same time, a personal touch strengthens client loyalty. So always take time for small talk and interaction.
Choosing the right communication channels
There are many ways you can communicate with your clients: for example, in person on site, in a video call, by email, phone or WhatsApp. But which of these channels make sense? There's no one-size-fits-all answer to that question, and it depends a lot on your client and the situation at hand.
It's best to ask new clients right at the beginning which channels they prefer to use for communication. Of course, you can suggest your own preferences. Also, be aware of the difference between written and verbal communication and know when to use what:
- Verbal communication: You should always communicate in person, on the phone or in a video call when it comes to exchanges or more complex coordination. These channels allow you to build trust more quickly and avoid long email chains that go back and forth. Verbal communication is also better for creative exchanges.
- Written communication: You should use emails when firm agreements are made. This allows both sides to refer to the messages and creates a higher level of commitment.
Often, a mixture of both ways is optimal: You agree verbally with the customer and summarize in a short email what you have agreed on.
You should be careful with messengers like WhatsApp. They may seem fast and convenient, and they can be useful if you're on good terms with a client. But these channels make it easier to blur the line between personal and professional. In addition, the client might expect constant availability and immediate replies. Therefore, think carefully about whether you want to use such channels.
Communication at the start of the project
When you start a new project, it is recommended to talk to the client in person, either on-site or in a video call. Of course, you can get booked through a freelancer platform and only communicate with the client in writing. But in this case it will be much more difficult for you to estimate them and their wishes and requirements.
At the beginning of the collaboration, you should clarify expectations and discuss the time frame – possibly with milestones and interim deadlines. The channels for collaboration and communication should also be defined. Of course, prices are also an important aspect. If a client is dissatisfied later, this is often due to a lack of communication at the beginning.
Make sure the client can ask you questions during the conversation, and also think about what you want to know from them. Later, it is best to summarize what you have discussed in writing. This will quickly clear any misunderstandings.
Interaction during the project
Throughout the project, transparent communication is important on both sides. If there’s a delay on your side, you should inform the client as early as possible. In case a change to the agreed deliverables seems necessary or advisable, you can discuss it and make a decision together. Point out challenges early on and actively propose solutions. This shows that you are professional and competent.
Regularly update your client on the progress of the project. There can be a wide range of preferences: Some clients want updates at every step, others only want to see the result at the end. It's best to ask at the beginning what the client prefers.
If you have agreed on milestones, they are a good opportunity for feedback. Be open to it and accept criticism without going into defense mode immediately. Always remain objective and try to find a suitable solution.
Finishing the project
The project has come to a positive conclusion? Wonderful, then you can lay the foundation for getting hired again. Thank the client for their cooperation and trust and indicate that you are available for further projects. You can also ask a satisfied client to recommend you to someone else.
Staying in contact beyond the project can be worthwhile and keep you on the client's radar. You can do this, for example, via professional networks such as LinkedIn. Read more about client retention here.
Clear communication is important
Another basic tip for client communication: make sure to communicate in an understandable way. It's sometimes tempting to demonstrate your knowledge through jargon and technical details. But this can be confusing for clients.
Rather, explain the context in an understandable way, communicating the benefits that your service has for the client. If your contact person is an expert in your field and has clear expectations, the situation is of course different.