The freelance business is a delicate balancing act. You need to be able to know your client's needs, and provide them with regular work that meets their expectations.
It can feel like you're constantly playing catch-up, and if you miss the mark on either of these two things, it could be bad for your business!
In this blog post, we'll discuss how to do client needs assessment so that you are always prepared to meet your clients' expectations.
What is a client needs assessment?
A client needs assessment is a way to determine what your clients expect from you, and how to better meet those needs. It uncovers the precise information your client is looking for in order to make the most accurate decisions possible.
When you know what it is that they are looking for, and why they need it, you can provide them with work that truly meets their expectations.
You don't want to assume anything - when you're working with clients on a regular basis, their true needs can be difficult to pick up on.
But it's important not only for your client, but also for you and your business! If you don't know what is most important to them, it will be hard to deliver the work they need or expect in a timely manner.
Why do you need it?
In order to provide your clients with the best work, you need to know exactly what it is that they want and why. For example:
Are they looking for SEO work because their site doesn't rank on Google? Or do they just want a website? What about branding?
Do we have all of the correct information in place so we can give them a website that will really benefit their business?
If you have an idea of what the work is going to entail, and why they want it done, then you can better determine how much time and money needs to be spent on the project.
Who is involved in a client assessment?
It's important to understand that this isn't something you can do solo. It requires input from your client, as well as any other individuals involved in the project (i.e., designers and developers).
When conducting a needs assessment it is also helpful to have two sets of eyes on everything, so bring anyone else who will be working on the project on board.
How to do a client needs assessment?
There are a number of ways you can go about conducting a client needs assessment.
The first thing that comes to mind is personal interviews, but this could be time-consuming and expensive! The next thing we recommend using our second phase: A broad-based assessment of your customer base.
1. Conduct the interview
It's important to choose a time that's convenient for your client, and so you should only plan the interview if they have time available.
The first step is to set up an agenda with them at least one week before hand so that there are no misunderstandings or confusion regarding what it is you want from them.
You can also let them know how long the interview is going to take so they can plan accordingly. At this point, you should also let them know that anything discussed will remain confidential and not shared with their competitors or other outside parties.
Confidentiality is important for getting your client to open up! It's smart to go into an interview without any set questions in mind, but instead with a list of topics to cover. This will allow you to get the most information possible in the least amount of time.
Be Consistent with your questions
- What are your goals for this project?
- Why did you choose us over other freelancers?
- What is it about our work or process that makes us different from others?
- What are the specific criteria that you're looking for?
When asked open-ended questions like these, clients will feel more comfortable talking to you about their business. You'll get a better idea of who they are as an organization and how this information applies to their project needs.
2. Broad based Assessments
There is a second phase of our client needs assessment process, which involves conducting a broad-based assessment of your customer base.
This allows you to validate results from personal interviews and gain more information about what it is they expect from you.
It's important to keep track of all your customers, including who they are and what projects they've worked on together in the past.
You can do so by keeping a spreadsheet or customer database whatever works best for you! It will be especially helpful if there is information about their previous work with you, including what it entailed and how you worked together.
You can also keep track of any feedback your clients have given about their work with you in the past and whether they said anything good or bad!
This will be helpful to know when determining if there was a specific problem that wasn't addressed properly during the project. Knowing this information will allow you to improve your process and better meet their needs.
It's important that you keep track of this information because it will give you a good idea about the kind of services they're looking for, what makes them choose one freelancer over another, and where the gaps in your service are. This is very valuable feedback!
3. Report Analysis and Recommendations
Once you've gathered all of your data, it's time to put together a report and make some recommendations!
The first thing is to review what you learned and determine if there was anything specific they were looking for.
For example: Did they want something new or different from their last project? Or Maybe this would be the first time they were using your services?
You should then look at what you've learned from them, including what it is that makes them choose one freelancer over another.
This will allow you to identify the issues and areas where you need to improve in order for them to have a better experience with your service.
The last part of this report is to make some recommendations. This could be something as simple as having a better process for making deadlines or giving them more information upfront about what your project will entail.
It can also include any new services you think they might enjoy. It gives you the space to improve the business possibilities in a better way!
4. Keep track of the Clients' Feedbacks
Now that you've made these changes, it's time to see how they work! Keep track of any feedback you receive, whether it is positive or negative. This will help improve your process moving forward and allow for changes if necessary.
This needs assessment can also be repeated at a later stage - maybe after six months or one year depending on the nature of your business! It all depends on what you want to learn from it.
5. Constantly Connect with the Client
You can accomplish this by having regular check-ins with your client. These can be in the form of phone calls, email exchanges or even a monthly face-to-face meeting if you have that luxury!
You might want to start off these meetings by asking what was most successful about their work with you and how they feel it could be improved upon.
This will help you to build a relationship with your clients and make them feel like they can be more open about their thoughts on the project.
You might also want to consider having these meetings after major milestones of your work, such as at the beginning and end of each quarter - or however often is most beneficial to your clients.
This will give them a chance to mentally prepare and put their best foot forward as they talk about the project with you, again making it easier for both of you!
What else should you do?
There are a few things to consider before beginning your assessment. First, make sure you have plenty of time available for this project!
It's always better to give yourself more than enough time rather than rushing through it and not getting the most accurate results possible. Second, try conducting these interviews face-to-face if you can.
It will be much easier to get accurate information this way, rather than over the phone or email. Thirdly, make sure that everyone involved in these interviews is on the same page about what it is they want from your service!
Keep these tips in mind as you build a relationship with your clients and meet their needs. If you follow this process, they will always feel like they're getting the best work from your freelance business!
Every business relationship is different, so it's important to keep that in mind and adapt your needs assessment process accordingly.