Over my years of working as a web developer, I’ve mostly held jobs that required me to work directly with clients. Clients come in many varieties, and while there are those dream clients that are effortless to work with, you usually have to get in sync with how they work in order to collaborate effectively. That could mean anything from keeping detailed notes about what’s been done to the site, having more calls than you might be used to, how you explain problems, etc. With that said, there are a few common things between all clients that will really get you on their good side.
Save them from a disaster
It’s a Saturday night and you’re just about to settle into a movie with your husband or wife, then you get the text, in ALL CAPS, from your client. “URGENT!!! PLEASE CALL!!!” You could ignore it, and of course you have every right to, but nothing will make a client love you quite like saving them from having a panic attack. Thirty minutes of your time could save the client thousands of dollars. Unfortunately, being on call is the nature of working as a software developer.
Fill the gaps
When working with clients, you have to remember that many times their vision for a project is incomplete. Keeping your head down and just building to whatever spec they give you can lead to a headache on your part and frustration from the client. If you know a better way to do something, let the client know. Sometimes you have to sell them on it. Likewise, if you see something wrong with the product that the client is unaware of, bring it up with them. More than likely they will be happy to pay and you’ll bill extra time.
There’s nothing that will drive a client crazier than not being able to reach you. Surprisingly, this is an easy one that I see people drop the ball on all the time. If you are working, check for client communication as often as possible. If you get an email notification, or a chat, or a text, see if it’s from a client. Also, make sure to respond so they know you got the message. I was guilty of adding tasks from emails to the pile and getting them done without letting the client know I had received the request.
Break bad news early
We try to keep work as close to our estimates as possible, but with the nature of custom web development, sometimes it’s just not feasible. This is especially true when it comes to debugging another developer’s code. You’ll think you’ve just about got it squashed, and then 8 hours later (and 6 over the estimate) you’re still working on it. Don’t put yourself in a situation where you’re going to have to work for free, or where a client is stuck paying for something they didn’t necessarily want to spend that much money on. If a task looks like it might go way over the estimate, stop work and let the client know immediately.