One of the biggest mistakes I think in this business is to treat your customer as a one time sale. Or even worse, as a number and not a long-term business relationship. This is actually one of our “theories” that a customer is worth more to us than a one time sale.

Now what are you doing as a designer in terms on client retention? Some designers I know have some sort of medium they use to keep in constant contact with their clients. Some of those tools are:

  • Email newsletters
  • Snail Mail postcards or advertisements
  • Facebook messages
  • Twitter mentions
  • Quarterly phone calls

Those are all nice, only IF you perform them as necessary and with an expected frequency. There’s also a level of engagement that needs to be monitored per client too. For example, if you have a few clients that respond more to snail mail letters than they do with social media, you may want to save your energy on social media marketing with those in particular and engage with them via postal mail.

The real issue though is actually paying attention to what they’re saying or thinking about their design needs. Some things to think about may be

  • When was the last time they updated their website?
  • Do they have any new services to add to their brochure or print media?
  • Is their email newsletter ready for a design upgrade?
  • Is their blog up to date with relevant and new posts?
  • Do they need more business cards for newer employees?

I can list out a bunch more but you get the drift. The threat with not listening to your clients is that they’ll end up complaining about their needs. Those complaints may not reach your ears, but a competitor’s ear. I’ll confess to a recent story from me. I created a site for a client maybe about 3 years ago. Updated the site after a year to a whole new look and feel. Client was happy. But I never followed up with them to see how they were feeling about their site, how their business was going, how many leads their site was generating them, etc. Now all of those could have been great reasons to sell them more services and I missed out on the opportunities.  So as a result, they found another designer that was in closer contact with them (almost daily) and he created a new website, domain, and all for my client. Unbeknown st to me, the client was since then promoting their new site on all their media. The new site was horrible mix of flash, dated design and layout, and sub par graphics, and using iframes pulling content from the site I had created. I almost fell out of my chair in disbelief on how my client could have preferred this over my work.

Moral of the story is to keep in contact and close ear of your current clients. Their businesses are growing just like yours, and just as your needs change so will theirs. As you add-on more services, pass those service options to your current clients. Even if they’re not in the position to utilize them now, chances are they will be in the future OR know someone who can now and refer them to you. At the end of the day they’d prefer to work with someone they trust over having to start over with someone new.

Have any experience like this in your design firm? Let me know in the comments below.