The Ultimate Guide to Working with Clients
If you're in a product-based business you probably already have some basic knowledge of customer service. However, if you're new to clients and customers, there's a lot you might not know. Managing clients can be tough. This guide will take you through some tips and tricks to keeping everyone happy and getting the best experience possible for the both of you.
01. Managing Expectations
One of the things that cause the most problems between a client and you is the lack of communication. Managing your client's expectations early in the process is one of the best ways to avoid conflict down the road. This can be done in a couple different ways so let's look at each one:
YOUR SALES PAGE
Be clear and upfront about your offerings. Display your prices on your sales page. Be transparent about your process and expectations of client participation. Create an FAQ section to answer common questions or address important steps right away. Not only will this help your client leads be more informed and a better fit to your services, but it saves them time too.
Make your services simple. Create a PDF or intro packet for serious leads to get all the details they need about your services. Include a timeline, payment plans and due dates in this file. Your job is to make things as clear and simple as possible.
TIMELINES AND TOOLS
Tell your clients what tools you'll be using during your time together. On my sales page I tell everyone that I use Appear.IN for meetings and slack for ongoing conversations, that way they know what to expect. I also ask every lead if they can dedicate at least 5 hours a month to our coaching program. If not, I know they will not be dedicated enough to have success through our coaching. It saves both parties time and money as we try to sort out all the details.
Online business is hard. It can be tough trusting people that you have never met, but that's what we ask our clients to do. So, in order to make the whole process go smooth, it's best to be upfront, honest and transparent from the start.
02. Upfront Payments
One of the most common problems I see between a business and a client is regarding payments. The client is late, or they never pay and disappear - these are huge issues that can easily be avoided if you plan correctly.
Since I started my business, I have always required full payments upfront from my clients. I didn't do this to avoid problems, I did this because that's the only way I had ever paid for services. Have you ever paid a carpet cleaning company AFTER they clean the carpet? Of course not, you pay, they clean and everyone is happy. Would you pay for a vacation AFTER you take it? No way, that would be insane. So why are you letting people pay you AFTER you complete the work?
This is especially true in online business, you don't know who you're working with. You have a website, a blog, social media presence, a LinkedIn profile, references and portfolios - your client just has money to pay you with and a job that needs to be done. You have no way of knowing if they will drop out of the contract early or just disappear when you send the invoice.
Requiring payment upfront for your services is not unfair to your clients. If they don't trust you, that's a completely different issue. CHANGE YOUR INVOICE TIMELINES - like right now.
03. Tools to make things simple
Working with clients isn't always easy. That's why I recommend you set up systems and use online tools to help you streamline some of the steps in the process. Obviously, there are a million tools to choose from. You could use tools like Asana, Trello, ToDoist to manage client tasks. You can create invoices in Paypal or Stripe. You could even do everything yourself with PDFs. Below are the tools I use regularly and have tested myself.
You probably know I love 17Hats by now (if not, welcome. I love 17hats.) I have a playlist of tutorials if you're new to the system and I have an entire course on this so we won't go into too much detail here. Basically 17Hats helps you build workflows and automate the process of on-boarding new clients. And they have a free version, yay! Some of my videos are from before the updates, all the systems are the same, the design is just a bit different.
This is a great dupe for 17Hats. They're a newish company and very similar to 17Hats, so if you tried 17Hats and didn't love it, give these guys a chance. I've played around in their system a bit and when I say it's a dupe for 17Hats - I mean, IT IS A DUPE FOR 17HATS. However, their design is more minimal and because they are a new company, I'm hoping they will add on more features in the future that help them stand out. They do have a client portal and login, so if you work one-on-one with someone for awhile, that would be a great feature to use.
Maybe you don't need all those bells and whistles that the two previous tools have. All you need is invoicing and bookkeeping. Freshbooks is a great and inexpensive tool you can use to get your money where it needs to go. I used Freshbooks when I first started as a virtual assistant and they've only improved since then. Their site has a free 30 day free trial as well.
Very similar to Freshbooks, but a bit more robust and has some extra features. You can use this as your accounting system (your accountant probably uses it) and you get a free small business account if you prepared your small biz taxes through TurboTax. Just look in your TurboTax account for the free signup link. Or you can use the link below for 50% off.
Wave is a great free alternative to the last two tools. You can send invoices and even setup payroll with this tool. It's very easy to use and has lots of support so the learning curve is smaller than you'd find with Quickbooks. I've talked about Wave a few times before, and even though I now use Quickbooks, wave is still one of my top recommendations for new business owners. I wrote a blog post about the bookkeeping basics in wave accounting that might help you get started.
04. Getting Repeat Clients & Getting New Clients
GIVE THEM AN AMAZING EXPERIENCE
One of the first steps you can take is to look at your current services. If you are a business coach, you'll want to provide your client with all the resources they need to continue improving after they stop working with you. One of the things you can offer is a list of next steps that could include offers for one of your courses, or maybe a 30-minute catch-up session. Give them options to continue learning using your own tools and courses.
They already liked you enough to purchase from you before, meaning they'd probably be more than happy to purchase "step 2" from you. If you don't have additional resources for them, make some! Make a workbook that helps them continue your techniques after the process ends. Develop a video series of "after the program" steps to help them continue to learn.
There are so many options out there! Get creative and give your clients an amazing experience.
FIGURE OUT YOUR FUNNEL
This one is huge and so often skipped. You might have a customer buy a $2 ebook from you - how do you get that customer to come back and consider attending your $15 webinar. Or purchase your $47 mini course?
Figure out your funnel/sales pyramid. If you don't know the next steps for your customers, they probably don't either. Laying it out and making a plan for your products can help clearly mark the paths you want your customers to follow.
We wrote an entire blog post about this a few months back, so if you don't have a sales plan laid out - pause and come back to this post after you read the post:
KEEP IN TOUCH
Add them to an email list, call them to say hey, let them know about new resources, follow them on social media - STALK THEM. Okay, don't do that. But - your clients picked you for a reason. You probably developed a relationship with them while working with them. So, continue that relationship.
It can be as simple as a quick email or you could send them a Starbucks gift card just to be nice. Find little ways to let them know you still care about their success.