Being your own boss can be a satisfying and rewarding experience, yet independent contractors still have to contend with their fair share of challenges from day to day.
Keeping customers happy is arguably at the top of the list of priorities, and when you work for yourself you cannot offload customer service responsibilities to anyone else.
With that in mind, here are six ways to ensure your customers and clients are well supported even if you have no one else to rely on for backup.
Make ordering easy
Whatever type of service you offer, it makes sense to streamline the process by which customers place orders and arrange to hire you.
This can be done without the need for any overcomplicated software solutions or tools; instead a simple and well-designed API will let you offer clients a streamlined way to both explore what services you can provide and to contract you if they like what they see.
If you are not especially technically minded, then hiring a developer to deal with API integration is sensible. This should also mean that the ordering experience is user-friendly as well as slick.
Stay in touch
After a customer has requisitioned you for a project, avoid the temptation to crack on with the work without keeping them in the loop about the progress you are making.
By providing them with regular updates, you will reassure them that things are ticking over nicely, and likely deal with questions they might have before they even ask them.
Be sure to ask customers which platform they prefer for their updates. Some might adore emails over phone calls, some might want virtual meetings or in-the-flesh get-togethers.
Set a schedule and stick to it
All customers will want to know when they can expect you to deliver on the work you have been contracted to complete.
Treat deadlines as sacrosanct and clients will have nothing to complain about. Of course if you do foresee delays, or you do not think the proposed schedule is realistic, make this clear to customers so that you are not caught out.
Listen to feedback
It might seem obvious, but it is not enough to just communicate with clients frequently; you also need to listen to what they have to say and take their suggestions on board.
Even if you feel like they are taking a project in a direction that you would not personally choose, adhering to their guidance rather than being unnecessarily obstinate will keep them happy and prevent productivity-sapping conflict.
Likewise after you finish working with a client, feel free to ask them what they thought of your contribution. Whether you receive praise or criticism, there is something to learn from every interaction.
Do your research
Customers will not appreciate having to hold your hand at every point in the collaborative process when you are an independent contractor.
This means you need to research the industry they operate in thoroughly so that you are up to speed with the basic elements involved, including any terms and phrases which are commonplace in this niche but might confuse outsiders.
Add the personal touch
If you want to keep your customers content not just for the duration of a project, but also in any other interactions you have afterwards, going out of your way to engage with them on more than just a surface level is advisable.
Developing lasting relationships with clients is the best way for contractors to thrive, and making this connection personal by asking questions and being attentive will stand you in good stead.