Top 10 tips to happy clients
Do what you say when, how and where you say you'll do it and be consistent.
Know more about your creative/media field than the client does. Keep up to date with emerging trends and facts by attending exhibitions, seminars or online research. They are hiring you for your specialist skills because they don't have in-house experts. Therefore, expect to suggest improvements to their brief (and be able to back up your argument), add value and offer fresh perspectives on the brief.
Take full control of the job you've been briefed to do. Make sure to chase the client if you are awaiting action in order to progress. Notify your client as soon as a problem arises. Tell them if there are any copy errors in what they've supplied. Make their life easier by offering solutions rather than giving them problems.
From taking a full accurate brief to being available to take their call, to having an email 'auto-reply' that says you're back in the office at 3 pm today. They shouldn't need to chase you, you're hired to make their life easier, not harder. Listen to your client and involve the client in the creative process and use your knowledge to separate the good from the ugly. Two of the most important words a client wants to hear is "thank you".
Your personal appearance, the way you answer the telephone, the way you behave are all part of your brand. You need to ensure that you are professional from the very beginning until to the very end. The paperwork you issue to manage the project need to reflect your professionalism. You may be a 'creative' but they're likely to be unimpressed if you explain the late start is due to a hangover.
Nothing irritates a client more than sloppy work, emails not spellchecked and rushed work with glaring errors show that you are not taking the work seriously. It also suggests to the client that you don’t about them and their project.
Know what you're capable of achieving in terms of output quality and the timing so you don't over-promise to the client. Keep tabs on your capacity. If your client wants you to layout a 500-page document in 2 days, then ask for a better timeframe. Better to be upfront than accept an unrealistic deadline and fail to deliver.
Where feasible offer flexibility to win brownie points. Clients will appreciate an evening worked to meet a deadline or a last minute change in the print finish (notified up front of any appropriate additional charges).
An extra free set of changes, an additional shot, and some extra code to demonstrate how suggested added functionality will improve a website. Little extras will go a long way when it comes to repeat business.
Do not disclose details of your clients' business to others, including any research or commercially sensitive information they pass on to you as part of a brief.
More on dealing with clients as a freelancer.