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Five Steps to Building Positive Relationships with Clients

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People skills may come naturally to some, but many haven’t yet mastered basic human interaction. This is why working with clients often proves to be a challenge. Sometimes, a developer has big dreams for what their program will look like and they forget to check in with the person paying them. Then they spend hours on something that doesn’t meet expectations. Other times, the client can’t figure out how to express exactly what they want and are upset with the final product. Either way, this article will help you know how to avoid (most) rocky situations and build stronger client connections.

Establish Expectations

Here is a story that most developers have heard at some point. The developer codes and completes an entire project that they’re super proud of. To them, there’s a good chance that it is one of the best-written programs in the entire history of programing. They present the final product to the client, expecting overwhelming gratitude and a big, fat check. Then the client proceeds to outline why the program does not fulfill their needs and in many cases, may even refuse to pay. That’s why it’s important to establish expectations. Have the client walk you through exactly what they want, take notes, and make sure that your program can do what they want it to.

Be Patient

Along the same lines, understanding exactly what the client wants might take a long time. Many clients aren’t familiar with coding, are operating on a tight budget, and may feel like coding is an entirely different language. Learn how to talk to people who don’t understand coding. If you can teach them a few things about what you’re doing along the way, it may make them feel more confident about working with you. Clients like to know what’s going on so long as it’s relevant to them. You probably don’t need to explain every parenthesis or semicolon, but helping the client understand the logic behind your programs may help them understand their value.

Sell Your Final Product

After your program is written and running, it’s time to sell it to your client (again). You were able to convince them to hire you, but now it’s time to show them why hiring you was a good idea. They’ll want to know that the program not only works the way they planned it but also that they’ll be able to continue to operate it. Tell the client exactly how the program will benefit them. Statistics about possible reductions in current expenditures due to the automation of previous processes can help strengthen your argument. The basic rules of presenting your program to fellow developers still apply, but you should plan on explaining things as simply as possible. Don’t be afraid to leave out irrelevant details.

Get Paid

Make the payment process as painless as possible. You may want to establish rates before the project is even started to reduce the likelihood of later bargaining. If at all possible, make sure that the rate you’re getting paid is fair before you get started on your program. Ensure that your program is delivered on time and as they want it to encourage timely payment. After the payment has come through, double check the amount and confirm that it’s consistent with the agreed rate. If you handle a high frequency of client payments, consider setting up Automated Dispute Management to reduce stress and decrease the likelihood of errors going unnoticed.

Gather Reviews and Feedback

Feedback is key to a good program. It’s easy to miss bugs during the programming process that are made very apparent by end users. For example, one client used a drop down menu to change the font color and background color of the screen to black and then asked why the words were no longer appearing. It’s at moments like these that feedback is key in understanding and resolving minor bugs. Gathering actual reviews from clients can help keep your client pool growing. I won’t go into details on how to gather feedback, but there are many available articles online. Good reviews can boost your online presence and ensure that your future clients are high caliber.

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