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Setting Boundaries with Clients While Being Personable

September 10, 2020

When you work for yourself, connecting with your clients is essential. Setting boundaries is just as important during a project! It can feel hard to balance being kind and being direct but without clear expectations for both parties involved, a project can quickly go downhill.

You may expect being strict with clients something that would make them annoyed or upset but I’ve found the opposite to be true. I am big on being super clear with my boundaries from the get go and I get no push back from clients when laying them out. My clients thrive on set expectations and heck, I do, too! But becoming confident enough to be so blunt has taken a lot of practice.

Our process is so team-like so you may wonder, how do you keep the kindness when making clients follow what you want them to do?

While I never want to be unprofessional in any way, I do enjoy learning about my clients and their lives. I don’t have to be their bestie after the project, but I’m here to uplift and support them from start to finish and beyond. Before, I was struggling to find that balance of professional but personable. But I’ve found a great system that has been working wonders! Let’s first look at the benefits to have strict boundaries with each of your clients.

Boundaries are your friend

Set office hours are always a good idea so you can have time away from work (it doesn’t always need to be 9-5 though! Mix it up for the way you work best) but they also let clients know when you’re in your inbox, or available to chat with them (we use Asana). Do I go outside of my business hours sometimes? Of course! I’m a people-pleasing human after all. But having that permission from myself to disconnect from work but connect wholly with other things and people I enjoy makes me a happier, better business owner.

I include this information in my onboarding email and within the contract for good measure. Keeping your clients in the loop while you’re working on their project helps a lot, too. I have a special way I approach this so I’m not spamming them constantly with emails, because no one likes 100 emails. But consistent communication reflects the care you’re taking with their project.

The benefits of kindness as a service provider

Being personable with your clients creates a more joyful experience. You can still be firm and educational when providing help, presenting concepts, and responding to feedback, but making your clients feel comfortable speaking to you can create an even better deliverable because you understand where they are coming from and you’re able to guide their opinions to the best result for their business.

Have you ever felt a little guilty to ask a launched client for a testimonial? Maybe you feel like you’re bugging them or that they may not want to provide one. With each of my clients, with a true connection built rather than just a past client notch on my belt, they’re happy to provide kind words and I’m happy to say that referrals happen quite a bit, too! I am always humbled when I get to work with people that a client sent my way, knowing that they thought that person could also benefit from working with me.

How I show my clients appreciation and care

What if I told you that adding more client care to your process is really simple and quick? You won’t need to change your process, templates, no prep involved!

The super simple steps

First, bring personality to your communication. When you send an email to your client, regardless of the reason, write in a way that reflects the way you talk. Ask them how they’re doing. I mention the weather more than I care to admit to, but it humanizes both of us and has surprisingly opened the doors to much more fun conversations. Learning here and there about my client and their life outside of their business helps me to serve them even better.

Second, speaking of communication, no matter what, I check in with each client on Monday mornings. It is my chance to see how their weekend went but I also can give them a quick note on what to expect in the week ahead. I’ll let them know which day to keep an eye out for a concept or demo so that they can provide feedback quickly. It also gives me a deadline that I can work towards to stay on track within their timeline.

Lastly, I follow my clients on social media and make sure to like their posts and comment when you can! I make sure to be complementary but also promote conversation. Showing this type of care has really made a huge difference in making my clients see that I genuinely care about their businesses. And I really do! These three techniques have helped me to grow closer to the people I work with and others in the community.

What do you do to make your clients feel appreciated? Boundaries makes a project work better for everyone involved.

Boundaries can seem scary and you may worry that your clients won't like you telling them what to do. I've found the opposite to be true! In my design business, my client projects thrive with strict boundaries. So how do I keep the connection with my clients? Click to find out!
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