How to Maintain Client Trust in Ongoing Video Projects

 Photo:  kino-eye  License:  Creative Commons

Photo: kino-eye License: Creative Commons

You landed that new video client.

Then you made a great first impression in your project kick-off meeting and got clear about the client's goals.

Now, all that's left to do is work on the project, right?

Not exactly...

You have to meet your deadlines and deliver what you said you would. But there's more to it than that. Whether your project is a failure or a success also depends a lot on how well you maintain a client's trust while the project is ongoing.

A lot of video professionals let this go by the wayside. Then they're left wondering why they don't get any repeat business.

That doesn't have to happen to you, though. Here's what you need to know to maintain invaluable client trust and forge long-term business relationships.

Client Trust: A Garden You Have to Water

It takes a certain level of credibility to get a potential client to consider hiring you, and an even greater amount to convince them to choose you for their video projects. That's what the first two posts in this three-part series covered.

The missing piece?

Maintaining a client's trust while the project is ongoing.

A lot of video professionals think just doing the work – putting their heads down and getting the project done – is all it takes to maintain client trust.

But there's more to the equation. If you begin a project and focus exclusively on the work (without paying attention to managing the project or the clients), you'll find even the most enthusiastic clients start to doubt you.

Doing the work is essential, but focusing on it alone ignores the human element of the freelancer-client relationship. Your client hired you for your video expertise, but you'll also need project management and client relation skills to deliver a great experience and convince them to hire you again.

Client trust is like a garden. Quality work is the soil. But if you don't consciously "water" the relationship, it'll wither and die.

Here are a few ways to do just that:

Delivering Frequent, Confident Progress Updates

How are you keeping clients in the loop about their video project?

A lot of mistrust comes not from doing a poor job, but from busy freelancers who don't update their clients about how work is progressing.

Fortunately, this is an easy problem to fix. If you set out certain project milestones in your proposal or contract, do everything in your power to meet them and have deliverables ready for the client at those times.

Punctuality is key, and so is confidence. How you present your deliverables can make a huge difference in how well they're received by clients. Remember, clients hired you because of your video expertise. Presenting a deliverable in a timid, wishy washy way ("I'm not sure how I feel about this. What do you think?") undermines your position as the expert. It also makes clients more likely to question your work and ask for changes... even if it was top quality stuff. Presenting deliverables confidently, on the other hand, reassures clients to trust your judgment.

If there are big gaps between deliverables, you can send a quick email updating the client on the status of the project. There's no need to do this every day. But an email every few weeks can take a huge weight off clients' shoulders, who are often anxious for reassurance that work is being done because they're accountable to their bosses and business partners.

Using video collaboration software is an easy way to keep clients in the loop. Whenever a client gets curious about the project status, all he or she just has to log in to the software and see it for themselves.

Soliciting Client Feedback

86% of people quit doing business with someone after a poor customer experience. A big part of creating a great customer experience is making clients feel their input is valued. Asking for client feedback is one of the best ways to do it.

Asking clients their opinions on your services after the project is finished is better than nothing. But asking while the project is ongoing allows you to "course correct" to better meet their expectations and show them you're someone to trust.

It's amazing how many video professionals aren't doing this. They just wait passively for feedback to come in. That isn't useful, however, because about 91% of people stop doing business with companies without ever voicing a negative opinion. Putting the burden on clients to come to you (whether they're happy or unhappy) causes you to miss out on opportunities to salvage relationships and collect compelling testimonials (if the client is happy).

Soliciting feedback doesn't take a lot of work. Project milestones – where you share portions of the project with your client – are great opportunities to check up with them on how you're doing and whether you could do anything better. And don't be afraid to send a personal email or pick up the phone and give the client a call. They'll almost always be flattered you took time out of your busy schedule to ask for their input.

The other side of this equation: making it simple for feedback to come in. Video collaboration software is great for this because it lets clients leave comments as they review deliverables in real time, allowing you to address them in turn. Whether you're using collaboration software or not, it's always a good idea to open up a few channels (email, phone, Skype, etc.) so the client can reach out to you in the way that's most convenient for them.

Responding to Client Feedback (Even If It's Negative)

Asking for feedback is nice, but it's what you do with it that really matters to clients.

First of all, thank clients for feedback. It doesn't matter if it's positive or negative. Feedback of all types (with the exception of insults and personal attacks) is a gift because the vast majority of clients don't explain themselves or offer ideas how you could improve.

It's easy to get defensive after receiving negative feedback on a project you poured your heart into. But resist the temptation. Don't fire back an email while you're angry or emotional. Take the time you need to calm down and reply with a cool head.

"Why?" is one of your most powerful tools here. If a client doesn't like some of your work, ask them to elaborate what they didn't like about it. That's a great chance to make them feel valued and get the insight you need to fix any problems. Sometimes you'll find clients don't like things out of personal taste, but they're willing to back down once you explain why you did something in a particular way.

When it doubt, circle back to the goals you identified when the project began and how your decisions help achieve them. Putting the project above personal differences shows clients you have their best interest in mind – that you're someone to trust.

Finally, stay away from making revisions piecemeal. You'll save time by organizing your revisions into "rounds." That forces clients to sit down and really think about what they want changed instead of making impulsive decisions that end up costing you a lot of time.

Building Long-Term Client Relationships

You already do great work.

That means you're well on your way to keeping clients happy and getting projects done just like they need them. If you spend a little time to address the human element of the interaction – to reassure clients of your progress and value their input along the way – you'll separate yourself from competitors and deliver a truly unforgettable experience.

What do you do to maintain client trust during your video projects? Leave a comment below and let us know!