Clients I like to keep

tickIn the last couple of weeks I have had several experiences that have made me think about what I value most in my clients. Focusing on the positives, here’s a quick checklist of things my clients do that make me want to keep working with them.

  • Trust me. This could apply to a range of work situations. Some clients trust me with difficult work. All of them trust me to charge them fairly, and work hard for my fee. I might be trusted with sensitive information. I like to be trusted to understand my purpose in the context of a project, and to just get on with it, but to know when I need to ask for help or support. All of this helps me feel more valued, and will result in that client continuing to receive excellent service.
  • Pay me on time, or even early. It’s so obvious, of course. But if I deliver on time (which I do), then I expect to be paid on time. All of my current clients honour this agreement. Yes, there are occasional glitches, but these are quickly rectified if so.
  • Understand that, while we might not talk about them, I do have other things to do. I work for many different clients, I have a family, and I have other interests. There are lots of factors that mean I can’t devote myself entirely to a single client, and I am not going to drop everything for anyone when they click their fingers, no matter how well they pay, or how interesting the project. I keep my side of the bargain, though … I don’t bother clients with my workflow clashes, or the fact that I feel exhausted because I’ve been dashing around on domestic errands. I get their work done, to a high standard, by the agreed deadline.
  • Communicate well. They don’t need to send me lots of terribly long emails, or whole forests of documentation, or chat to me for hours on the phone – in fact, it’s easier all round if they don’t as a rule, though clearly there are times when it’s necessary. But I do need to know where I stand before I commit to a project, and what is expected of me. Also, if the timing of a project changes, I am usually happy to accommodate that as long as I am given fair warning.
  • Thank me for my hard work. I try to give every project as much as I can, I work hard, and I am good at my job. Nothing feels better than somebody taking the time to say, even if briefly, that they recognise this and they’re grateful for my effort. Put simply, a single thank you can make my day.

What it comes down to is that I like to be treated as an individual with particular skills and expertise, not merely a resource. I’m not a prima donna – I’m under no illusion about the fact that on every job I am but one link in a chain – but I am human. My favourite clients (I hope they know who they are!) genuinely appreciate that, and act accordingly.

Photo on 02-09-2015 at 13.12Liz Jones has worked as an editor in the publishing industry since 1998, and has been freelance since 2008. 

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