Is it my job to keep clients happy?
I was recently talking with another web professional. We have a client in common and we were discussing some web-related issues the shared client was experiencing. After explaining to him that the client had pretty much gone radio silent after several back-and-forth emails about the matter, he offered me some unsolicited advice. He told me to CALL the client, rather than using email as our form of communication. I continued to tell him how I’d handled the matter so far, asking a bunch of questions and waiting patiently for the answers. How getting the information I needed in order to fix the issue was like pulling teeth. Then he proceeded to tell me that they were the client, and I should probably just try to keep them happy.
I thought hard about what he said. Had I become so bleak and despondent that I was no longer trying to keep my clients happy? Had I become awful to work with? I took a good look at myself and my client roster. Were my other clients happy with my level of work and service? I thought they were. (I hoped they were!)
I immediately emailed the client at hand and scheduled a phone call to sort out the issue that way, as the other web vendor recommended. A couple days later, we spoke on the phone. I communicated very clearly that I would not be able to fix the issue without more information and what I needed from them in order to move forward. (Days later, I’m still waiting for the needed information.)
I’m glad I called my client and showed them that I’m doing all I can to at least try to fix their website complications. But do I think it’s my job to “keep them happy”? Actually, I don’t. I think it’s my job to keep myself happy, and that’s it. And you know what keeps me happy? Having clients who respond to my inquiries (especially when it’s ultimately to benefit them) and who appreciate my work.
I think it’s the client’s job (not just this client but all clients) to:
- choose a freelancer whose style of work and service meets their needs
- provide all necessary information to said freelancer so that a project can get started
- give feedback to drafts in a timely manner
- pay invoices promptly
- communicate with the freelancer if at any time the nature of the relationship needs to change for whatever reason
And it’s my job to:
- take on projects that match my skill set and interest
- create beautiful designs
- take client feedback into consideration along with my professional recommendations to make them even better
- provide drafts and the final project on time and within budget
- communicate with the client if at any time the nature of the relationship needs to change for whatever reason
One of the perks of being a freelancer is that I don’t have a boss who I am responsible for keeping happy. I do have clients that I answer to, and I’d certainly love for them to be happy, but ultimately I work for myself.
Are you a happy client or freelancer? What makes you happy?