How Far Will You Go for a Client?

The web design client is an interesting being. They are cut from many different clothes, and they come from all walks of life. Some are tech savvy and others seem like they’re stuck in the Stone Age. There are clients who need their hands held during every step of the web design process while there are others who are on top of everything.

No client is ever the same. And each client presents different situations and exercises that can really test your will.

How far will you go for a certain client? What level of service will you provide even if it falls outside the scope of your agreement?

I’ve had web clients who’ve made all sorts of requests of me. From soliciting business advice to inviting me to their functions to barraging me with endless questions, sometimes I think I’ve seen it all.

But it doesn’t wear me thin.

Instead, I feel stronger each time I’m able to help a client out. That’s one of my main motivations for going beyond the standard call of duty for a client. It builds me and exposes me to things that will only add to my experience.

It’s also about the client. In fact, it’s mostly about the client. The benefit I extract from helping clients beyond the norm is only a sliver of the calculations I make in determining how far I should go for a client.

What are those calculations?

These are the primary considerations I put forth in my mind when faced with a client situation and how far I should go for them:

  • What is the tangible value of the client? Are they bringing in thousands of dollars or just a few bucks?
  • What is the intangible value of the client? Could there be future business dealings or perhaps introductions to other potential clients? This is tricky to analyze. There is no set dollar figure you can place on this value. Sometimes your lowest paying clients can be your best referral source. They’re keepers.
  • What is the client’s past behavior like? Is everything an emergency? Do they have a habit of double dipping with your services? Some people are just inconsiderate or cheap, and they will try to milk you for everything you’ve got. They’re leaches and I keep a close eye on them.
  • What is the opportunity cost of involving myself further with the client? If I help them, will I lose more than by not helping them? There could be a bigger, better project to work on. Again, this is tricky to analyze because the opportunity cost might not be obvious.
  • What is the result of not going the extra mile for this client? This is a what-if scenario. If I don’t help this client will they not refer me? Be careful about letting yourself be held hostage by your client. Sometimes you have to sacrifice a client relationship to maintain your sanity and business.
  • Is the client a talker? Will they spread the word of my good deed? Getting other people to talk about you is better than talking about yourself.
  • And finally, and most important, what is the client’s impact on the local community and economy? Are they a non-profit that provides superb services to the community? Are they a driving force in the local economy? By helping those who help others, you indirectly help yourself. Sometimes that’s a tough concept to wrap your head around.

The point of this exercise is not to provide poorer quality service to clients who don’t cut it. I do good work for all of my clients and honor my contracts. Rather, the point is to provide super-quality service – service that goes beyond what is normally expected and service that cannot possibly be duplicated for all clients – to those clients who deserve it and show potential in helping not only my business but also the local community and economy.

And remember, this is a business, and you have to consider yourself and your business’ needs as well. You can’t help others if you aren’t in business.

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