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Freelancers, stop ignoring customer retention!

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Most freelancers think that 'customer retention' and 'brand loyalty' are just terms that get thrown around by marketers and don't apply to them. But no matter how small the business in question may be, customer retention is always relevant. In fact, I can't think of a single situation in which acquisition is cheaper than retention. In many cases, freelancers are just a single unsent email away from securing repeat business from a client!

Picture the following:

You've been working with a client for a few weeks. They sent you an email via your website and the two of you talked a bit about the goals for the project. You drafted up some copy/code/designs for them and sent them over. The reactions were positive but they came back with some comments. You sent over some revisions, which they loved. The project is now live and your invoice has just been paid. That project is finished now. The fat lady has sung, right?

WRONG.

Why?

Because a project's success/failure depends on the goals and metrics associated with it.

 

A couple of weeks after the project goes live, freelancers are doing themselves a disservice if they don't email clients to ask about the impact their work has had.

There are two possible responses:

1. 'INCREDIBLE. Sales have increased by 400%!'

Nice work, you just got a kickass stat to mention in your portfolio. You're also pretty much guaranteed to be that client's first port of call if they need any other work doing. But you should ask them if they need anything else doing. After all, with a 400% increase in sales, they can afford it.

2. 'Oh, things are about the same' or 'sales have dropped a little'

FYI, most business owners will view the former as being as bad as the latter - they didn't pay you a bunch of money just to maintain the status quo.

This sort of feedback can be a little trickier to handle; you're effectively asking for a second chance to prove yourself. So you tell them you're sorry to hear that and that you'd love to help them test some things to make sure your work has a positive impact. You may also want to consider offering a discount because you want to make things right.

 

More often than not, both responses will result in repeat business. Which is really just freelancer-speak for customer retention. But more importantly, provided that any necessary second attempts hit the mark, both conversations will ultimately result in happier clients. That not only increases the odds of them using you again in the future, it also means they'll be more likely to recommend you to others.

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