Since working as a freelancer, my brain tends to hurt when I try to contemplate everything I have to be across in order to be successful at it. It’s something I dearly want to get better at and I’m always willing to learn anything that makes it easier. So when Linda Pophal offered a guest blog about freelancing, and keeping existing customers happy, I was intrigued at what she had to say because keeping existing customers happy — isn’t that about doing good work and having them come back?
Freelancers and Customer Engagement: Why It Matters by Linda Pophal, guest blogger
Customers rule and it would be hard to deny that the continued quest for new customers isn’t a worthy endeavor for businesses large and small. And yet…and yet, in their quest to attract new customers they often overlook, or even ignore, a critical audience that has already connected with them—their existing customers.
The same is true of freelancers. The publications, agencies, editors and clients we work with are, indeed, our customers. Like other organizations, though, we’re often so focused on finding new clients that we don’t spend the time or make the effort to engage effectively with those we have.
Consider your own freelance activities. Do you:
- Recognize when a new customer comes on board in some meaningful way? Do they know that you value their business and hope that they will return?
- Seek feedback from these new clients after your first engagement to find out what worked well and what might be improved in the future?
- Seek ongoing feedback regularly over the course of your freelancing relationship?
- Convey in explicit ways how much you value the opportunity to work together?
- Recognize when a customer may be “lost” and reach out in some way to determine whether the customer has indeed left? Do you gain marketing insights from these defections to help in your future engagement efforts?
- Resist the tendency to become complacent and give “less than your best” to clients you may have been serving for years?
- Have methods of staying engaged with clients in meaningful ways?
These connections are so simple to do and yet so often overlooked. Like the farmer in Russell Conwell’s well known “Acres of Diamonds” story, freelancers are often sitting on piles of riches they don’t even recognize as they seek continually to find new work.
Yes, it is important to continue to build business because you never know when a key account may suddenly go dry. And yet…
And yet, we have the opportunity to minimize the loss of existing clients and accounts if only we took the time to serve them well, let them know they matter and stay meaningfully engaged. Before you write your next pitch to a new prospect consider, instead, how you might reach out to a valued existing client. The results will be worth it.
Bio: Linda Pophal is the owner of Strategic Communications, LLC, and the author of The Everything Guide to Customer Engagement (Adams
Media, 2014). She is a lecturer in the Communication/Journalism and Management/Marketing departments at the University of Wisconsin-Eau Claire, and a freelance writer writing under the pen name Lin Grensing-Pophal.