Have you ever been to a business that was so amazing you told everyone you knew about how wonderful you thought it was even if you didn’t buy a single thing?
I’m not talking about a place where the employees treated you right and met your expectations because every business should do that. That’s just basic customer service!
Instead, what I am talking about is a business that had that certain something that’s hard to put your finger on. Whatever that certain something is, it made you smile long after you left. Personally, I have only been to a few businesses that had that certain something, but they all had one thing in common: They always made me feel like a VIP long before I left.
How did they do it? What secret formula did they use to make going to their business seem so magical? How can freelancers replicate this to make their clients feel truly valued?
Below are 9 ways you can make your freelance clients feel truly valued as part of your business, and even on a more personal level too.
1. Remember, Clients Are People Too!
Everyone loves to be acknowledged, even in small ways. One thing you can do is make sure to treat your clients like real people, not just robots on the other side of a computer screen.
Find out when your clients are going to be celebrating their birthdays or anniversaries so you can help them celebrate. If it works for your business model, consider offering them a special discount. Not only can this help to increase your sales, but it also makes them feel like you value them and their business. To add to the experience, use nice stationary and sign the card personally when you send it to them in the mail. Mailing a hand-written card can feel so much more special than sending an email.
Jackie Lam, founder of Cheapsters.org, said she sends handmade cards and notes to her clients to make them feel valued.
Although fun occasions are great, it’s important to be there for clients during tough times too. Sarah Bettencourt said she tries to remember her clients are people too.
“I’ve sent some of them flowers when they’ve experienced a loss or illness,” she said. “Sometimes I call them up and have a heart-to-heart with them either about a difficult situation or to praise them for their accomplishments.”
2. Give Personal Attention
Nothing says VIP like having someone roll out the red carpet for you and then take you on a tour. However you also don’t want to suffocate your clients or customers. Don’t pounce on them the moment they get through the door. If your clients do business with you online instead of in a storefront, don’t bombard them with e-mails and calls so that they feel overwhelmed. You may turn them off if they feel you are pressuring them which could cause you to lose their business instead.
Finding the right balance of personal attention without crossing the line into pushiness may seem tricky, but it’s really about letting them know you are there for them and their needs. Be visible and available so they know you are there to help them. Greet them by name and make them feel like they are your top priority. They will feel valued as a result and it may be exactly what brings them back to do repeat business with you.
3. Thank Them
Whenever you can, thank your clients for doing business with you. Once again, you don’t want to overdo it because it will come across as false. Always be genuine when you thank them because your clients and customers can spot a fake easily, which may cause them to feel lied to and cost you a client. If you want to win client and customer loyalty you need to be authentic.
One way to thank your clients and customers is to offer them something special at the holidays such as a small gift or card.
Manuscript editor, Megan Harris, said she sent custom Christmas gifts to many of her clients to show her appreciation.
“Newer clients got Starbucks gift cards. Clients I have had for years got stuff like fingerless gloves, dice for tabletop gaming, rear view mirror decals, comic books, etc.,” she said. “I might not send as many custom gifts next year but they were surprises and everyone loved it.”
Or, hold a client and customer appreciation day to thank them for choosing to do business with you. Remember, they are the reason you are in business so make them feel appreciated.
4. Create a VIP List
If you have a few clients who are very loyal to you and do a lot of business with you, create a VIP list of just those individuals. You could host a special sale just for them, or open your business during off hours for a special VIP event. Of course, you still want to treat all of your clients and customers like they are queens and kings. Having a VIP list simply acknowledges the volume of business some of your clients do with you and thanks them for their patronage.
5. Listen to Feedback
By collecting a little bit of information from your clients, you can find out what they like and dislike. Doing this enables you to make changes to appeal to their tastes so you can not only increase your sales, but really cater to them and make them feel truly valued. You could also use the information to let them know when new products or services you know they will like become available. Always look for ways to improve what you have to offer in the spirit of wanting to help them.
6. Become Their Customer
One way to help your clients feel valued is to turn the tables and become their customer. If your clients also have businesses or products, keep them in mind when you need services or products they have available. If they find out you did business out of town or with someone else who is not a customer of yours, they could ditch you and find someone else to give their business to.
7. Stay Presentable
In order to make your clients feel like they are special, you have to become something special as well. If you have a storefront it needs to always be picked up, clean, and well displayed. You need the right lighting, music, and even temperature to entice your clients and customers to stay longer and shop more. Use special wrapping paper and wrap gifts for them during holidays or for birthdays. Do anything and everything to make your store or business top notch and extra special because your customers deserve it.
If you conduct your business on-line instead of in a physical location, keep your website and mobile websites updated. Make it as easy as possible to conduct business with you by making changes and updates when necessary.
Keep your clients and customers informed of what is new with your business. Let them know if you are offering new products or services and when they are coming. Are you planning to have a special sale or promotion? Send out an invitation or newsletter to let your customers know. Include a promotional sale with limited availability and dates to let them know the products you are offering are special.
9. Treat Employees or Contractors Well
You can tell a lot about a business by how they treat their employees as well as their customers. Do you have employees or staff that you have hired in your business? If so, you need to treat them like gold.
Having a great team can make or break your entire business. When your employees feel valued, they are going to brag about working for you and how wonderful it is. You don’t inspire employee loyalty solely from employee discounts. Instead, treat them well. Thank them for working for you. Acknowledge them in front of others when you can without overdoing it and appearing false. Reward creative ideas or when you do an amazing job. Feature a section in a regular newsletter with an employee product or pick of the month or quarter. Help them if they are struggling in certain areas.
I don’t know if you have noticed, but there has been a recurring theme throughout the above ways to make your clients feel truly valued. It is to treat people well. In some cases, you have to treat people better than they may even deserve. But putting real effort into making your clients and customers feel special can have amazing rewards for your business. It will not only make your customers feel special, but it will make your business special as a result.