Do You Treat all Your Clients Equally?

I’ve been doing some reading about whether all clients are created equal, and most of what I have found suggests that they should be divided into categories depending on whether they are likely to give you more work and/or referrals. The idea is that you give better service to the clients that you have decided are most worth your while.

Before I started freelancing, I worked as a legal assistant for several years. My first job after I finished college was at a very large law firm. Rather than get drawn into office politics of “Don’t you know who I am?”, it seemed simpler and more prudent on my part to decide to treat everyone who worked there in exactly the same way. Then I didn’t need to worry about whether the person I was talking to was a senior partner or a messenger working in the mail room. (Senior partners tend to dress a little better, but you get my point….)

I continued with the same strategy when I started freelancing. I don’t treat clients better or give them more of an effort depending on how big the project is or if I think they are someone who can give me referrals. All of them are equal, and deserve to be treated with respect. They are paying me to produce the best work that I can for them, at the price we have agreed upon. I don’t have different levels of service that depend on what that figure happens to be.

If a client ever asked, “Don’t you know who I am?,” the answer is clear. I would say, “You are my client.” That’s all that needs to be said. The truth is that the people who have turned into long-term clients started me off with small projects. Business relationships take time to develop. Treat all of your clients equally well and you are on your way to building long-lasting ones.





7 responses
  1. Mark Keating Avatar

    Exactly right Jodee. All you ever owe your client – any client – is your best effort. Makes life a lot simpler.

  2. Tricia Goss Avatar

    I think this is true regarding life in general. Nicely put!

  3. Lisa Avatar

    wow… that sounds so reasonable and well-considered!

    truth is, though, that I do treat clients differently.

    I knock myself out for clients who are “regulars,” and would put off a one-timer for an ongoing client’s immediate needs. I do seem to put more time and effort into projects that I enjoy, and/or projects that have the possibility of helping me build my reputation in an area that really excites me.

    Guess that makes me human…??

  4. Lou Paun Avatar
    Lou Paun

    In terms of quality of work, I think you are exactly right. All clients deserve the quality that I represent; that’s why they hire me.

    In terms of scheduling, I do give priority to repeat clients that pay promptly, then to repeat clients in general. That’s just a practical business decision.

    I also tend to give priority to clients who are pleasant to work with or who have interesting projects. That’s not a business decision, but I think it’s a normal response.

  5. Alik Avatar

    I agree. I treat all clients equally because they’re paying me for my time and effort, which is the same to everyone. Also, you can never really tell who’s going to give you referrals or not. I’ve gotten referrals from some of the most unlikely people, and I’ve shown them how appreciative I am of that. My rule of thumb is to act like everyone is going to give you a referral and do the job well enough that would compel them to refer you. No one is going to refer an average writer – people refer above average writers who impress them.

  6. Jennifer Mattern Avatar

    Agree completely Jodee. When I did music PR work I used to work with well-known artists and their managers as well as unknowns. Everyone was treated equally. In my business writing work now, I work with unknown webmasters and large corporations. Again, they’re still treated equally. They also seem to appreciate it – smaller clients appreciate the attention and larger clients often find it refreshing when someone isn’t in “OMG, I’m so lucky to be working with you,” mode.

    I think it would be absolutely ridiculous to treat a client differently (better) because you think they may lead to more work or referrals. You never know who a client knows (even a small one). I’ve never pursued larger corporate clients. Every one that I’ve worked with came through a referral from someone much smaller on a visibility level.

  7. Trance Music Download Avatar

    You’re really smart person!

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