Building trust takes time and it is not something that can be tweaked overnight. It is more of a habit building that you need to develop as a freelancer.
As a freelancer, when you start working for a client, often they may not have even heard your voice. They may have only read your proposal or at the most know your email address. So how freelancers can build trust with clients?
Based on so little information client has about you, they still need to share their hosting details, root access to the server, domain accesses details and much crucial other information that can put their entire online business at stake.
Trust is an essential aspect of any business, and freelancing is no different. If your prospective customers do not trust you, they will never be your customer no matter what you offer and how low you price it.
Building trust takes time. So, be ready to build trust over time. It is not something that one can tweak overnight. It is more of a habit building that you need to develop as a freelancer.
So here are some of the key for freelancers to start gaining the trust of clients.
Always Tell the Truth
If you want to build trust with clients, you should tell the truth.
At times, I see freelancers lie without any reason. They have a habit of telling a lie.
Once I had a meeting early in the morning. I usually don’t schedule meetings in the morning because at times it is quite late for the clients in the US and if I am working late, I may not be able to make it to the meeting.
I just completed the delivery of the project last night. So the client wanted to test things out for his full day and schedule a meeting with me in my early morning for feedback. It helps because then I can continue fixing the issues in my day time when he is not around. It was a reasonably urgent project.
I couldn’t wake up at the scheduled time for the meeting and was late by 45 minutes.
When we started the meeting, the first thing the client asks me why I was late. My reply was I overslept.
No excuses like power failure or Internet failure or alarm issues.
Plain and simple truth.
He liked my answer so much now I am part of all his projects. He wants my opinion for anything he is planning because he knows that I will not speak to impress him.
In the freelancing world, most lies are for buying time.
Your estimates for the time needed to get things done was wrong.
So you don’t need more time by telling like you are sick or are outstation.
At times clients can follow you on Facebook and find it out.
It’s better to let them know you were wrong in assessing the situation beforehand or how you estimated and things are different.
You are human and not a robot who will always be right.
It’s about how you handle when you get it wrong that matters more than anything else.
Care for Client’s Business
Clients are your customer, but then your clients have their own business as well. You have to show them that you not only care for your payment but also their business.
If you don’t care about your client’s business, they will not care for you. It is as simple as that.
If you as a freelancer want to gain the trust of clients, work with them and not for them.
I had a task of 35 hours or so. I completed the job. After it was complete, we had some other plugin installation which needed a cron script run which made some permanent changes that it wasn’t supposed to be doing.
It was clients requirements and wanted those but being a technical guy, I should have tested the working of those plugins beforehand on a test environment or at least I should have kept the backup copy to restore before doing the install.
I took complete responsibility for the issue and did 15 hours of extra work without charging the client. I also did some additional tasks for him because his site had to be kept close for a few hours when I was fixing it.
The website is his business that pays me. If I don’t care for his business and profitability, it can’t work for me in the long run.
You can’t be rude to clients.
Rude developers and freelancers never gain the credibility and trust of clients.
If you think you cannot do what they want you to be doing, tell them NO but saying no should not be in a disrespectful manner.
I had a client in the past where it worked well for almost a couple of years or so. Then I increased the hourly rates that I had to pass on to him, which I usually tend to avoid to the extent I can.
It led clients to get another developer, and I was completely ok with it, but then the developer was entirely new and was getting stuck. I was helping the client with the little bit tricky work that his other developer was getting stuck with.
It was not working as expected for me because to debug an issue of a newbie developer is a lot more time-consuming. Though I was paid, I let, the client know about the potential problems that could come up in the future.
As expected, the client thought I am pushing my services at higher rates instead of the new developer who is working for real cheap.
As the number of hours per week needed from me was too low, I let the client know that if there aren’t a minimum number of hours per week, I will not be able to work on his project because of my commitments from other clients. He understood the scenario completely, and we still have a business relationship going.
Many freelancers think clients are taking undue advantage of their services and become rude to them.
New freelancers take up everything that comes their way. Instead, be transparent about what your expertise is and possibly pass on things you are not very good at. It is OK to say no.
If you cannot be the best at what you are doing, let them know. What is your area of expertise? Refer to others who are good in those areas to get things done or get it done by others by letting the client know.
Whatever clients prefer.
I prefer to refer to the client. Let them handle it with the other guy. Unless clients insist on me getting it done by others, I don’t do it that way.
When it comes to being transparent, I even share what other developers are charging me. More importantly, how much I am adding for myself.
Build Trust – Business Will Follow
Any business needs time to build credibility and trust.
If you are a new freelancer, some clients can be a little suspicious of your business or services.
They may wonder how long you’ll last. Expect such unsaid feedback’s but don’t take them as a negative.
Be consistently consistent.
Why do you think celebrity endorsements cost so much? You name any celebrity, and they charge like anything when endorsing products.
Because they have earned the trust of their followers and their followers want to buy things that they recommend.
So how can you earn trust?
Well, I am sure you have something to offer. So start offering it with honesty. Be it service, product, or even a blog where you express your voice. Keep it real and honest. People will start trusting you. Remember, it is a long term process and not a short term blip.
Don’t worry if what you are offering is not unique because it may not always be possible to choose a unique product for each us, but sometimes it is easier to provide something in a way that others do not.
What are you building? Is it Business or is it Trust. If it is business, the time has come to make a switch. Remember no business can flourish without trust.
Building trust can take a lot of time, and it can be lost overnight. It is a riskier game to put the trust factor at stake in any business, and freelancing is no different.