The Simple Thing I Do to Enhance My Client Relationships
Sometime last year, I got a small surprise in the mail—a small postcard. The card was a handwritten note from a former colleague. I’m a sucker for this kind of stuff. I keep all the Christmas cards, birthday cards and other letters I receive. But it wasn’t until I started freelancing that I realized how important they were.
It was rare for me to have healthy, respectful relationships with bosses. Most of my bosses were sad to see me go. Most of them took me out for lunch on the last day or gave me some sort of parting gift or note. Though I’ve almost always won over the hearts of my supervisors, it’s rare that I’ve had bosses with whom I hardly had a bad day working. It’s no secret that poor relationships with management cause employees to leave. I’ve had superiors who’ve made insulting comments about my physique, touched my natural hair, or failed to pay me and my fellow staffers. At one point, the stress from a former staff job caused me to have heart palpitations, shortness of breath and chest pains, an experience which started as a dream job that eventually led to a speedy departure.
One of the things I’ve searched for in a employee-employer relationship is a mutual respect and gratefulness for one another’s skills. Yes, I’m getting paid a salary or hourly wage (but no benefits yet!). However, following the first week or two after my first day, the politeness fades away. The openness to my ideas dissolves, and I’m eventually another cog in the machine. But my relationship to my work changed when I became a freelancer.
In early 2018, not long after my birthday, I went into a nearby bookstore to buy copies of the January 2018 print issue of a women’s magazine I’d written for a few months back. The sight of my name in a print magazine was so exciting, so rewarding. Though it as a small byline, it was first women’s magazine byline. I was so thankful for the experience that I headed to Paper Source for some postcards and wrote a thank you note to my editor. A week or so later, she wrote my an email thanking me for the note.
It’s a small gesture, but a kind one in an era when there are so many other, quick ways to reach out to people. This impulse made me realize how much I value my clients. Yes, they’re responsible for my lifestyle, but they also treat me like a partner rather than a worker. My clients, the ones who have stuck with me for a while, value my opinions and experience.
So, to show my clients that I’m appreciative, I continued to send thank you notes to my clients, particularly during the holiday season and after six months of working together. So far, the experiment has been well-received. As my business grows, I’d like to splurge on client gifts like chocolates or gift cards. But for now, I think handwritten notes are the best way to show my clients that I appreciate them as much as they value me.
How do you strengthen your relationships with your clients? Tell me in the comments or email me at email@example.com.