6 ways software developers can earn repeat customers
As the owner of a freelance software development business, you may be tempted to pursue larger accounts or make new sales. However, retaining your existing customers – no matter how small – may be a better way to build your business, in part because you won’t have to spend money acquiring new clients.
It costs five times as much to attract a new customer as it does to keep an existing one, according to research by Invesp. That doesn’t mean you shouldn’t try to acquire new customers. However, if you’re able to retain a majority of your existing clients, you’ll likely have steadier and more predictable income.
Here are six steps to help you create repeat customers for your freelance software development business:
1. Create high-quality software
One of the best ways to keep customers coming back is to always develop high-quality software. You can do that by meeting and even exceeding your clients’ expectations to ensure they’re satisfied with your work.
High-quality software means more than offering a robust product that’s reliable, easy to use, and enables your customers to operate more efficiently. You should also include flexibility, process automation, and integration with your clients’ external software. Help your clients save money and eliminate waste, ultimately delivering profits at a large scale for them and likely more business for you.
2. Focus on UX design
The goal of user experience (UX) design is to create an enjoyable and meaningful experience for your customers’ users. If you’re not a UX design expert, then you should probably have one on staff. UX designers enhance customer satisfaction by combining better accessibility and usability to delight users when they interact with an application.
Your clients rely on you to create a product that their customers will enjoy using. It’s important to integrate design and engineering skills to create a product that will improve their business and lead them to seek out your software development company for future projects.
3. Mitigate risks
Some potential customers may think that hiring a freelance software development company poses a security threat to their businesses, especially if sensitive corporate data is involved. However, if you convince them to hire you, you need to continue to demonstrate that you possess more effective risk-management methods than your competitors.
If you want your clients to offer you more projects, it’s important to work with them and their stakeholders to identify, understand, and mitigate any risks that might negatively affect the success of their projects. That includes guaranteeing confidentiality and protecting your clients’ intellectual property rights.
4. Collaborate with clients
To ensure quality in the software you develop and keep your customers happy, you should encourage collaboration with your clients. Meet with them and ask questions so you can fully understand use cases for the software you are developing. Bring new ideas to the table and make suggestions on how to make improvements.
Customers want to work with freelance software developers who help solve their problems. If you don’t work together on the software development process, you likely won’t produce the best possible product, and your customers may turn to your competitors.
5. Demonstrate project and time management skills
Many companies want to hire freelance software developers who can use and implement project management tools, such as Basecamp, Trello, Asana, or JIRA.
Using one of these tools provides transparency and lets your customers know that you can accurately track projects, organize and assign tasks, share and collaborate on documents, and map out schedules.
Because tracking time is also key to the success of a project, you should be able to provide detailed reports to your clients for the time spent on their particular projects. They’ll be more likely to hire you again if they see you’re organized and working efficiently.
6. Keep in touch
Each time you complete a project, you should write a personal email to your client asking to set up a call or a casual meeting to discuss the results. The email could be as simple as telling the client that you’d like to do a post-project review and get feedback on the process. Explain that you want to find out how everything is working out, determine if you need to make any adjustments, and ensure that you delivered everything the client wanted.
During the call or the meeting, ask about your client’s other challenges – issues that you may be able to help solve. Continue to stay in touch with each client every few months to make sure everything is running smoothly. If you are top of mind as a resource for your clients – even when it’s not tied to a specific project – they are more likely to turn to you when they do have needs.
Find the right insurance
For example, cyber liability insurance protects your freelance software development business against liability and expenses due to the theft or loss of data as well as breaches of security or privacy, particularly if you’re hosting customer data.
In addition, general liability insurance will protect you against liability from third-party claims, including copyright infringement, a risk for software developers. And technology errors and omissions insurance can help cover claims of negligence in your professional work, including allegations that you installed faulty software for a client or knew of security vulnerabilities in the software you developed.
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Linda Rosencrance, Freelance Writer
Linda Rosencrance is a freelance writer with over 30 years of experience writing about the IT field. Her work has been featured in The Boston Globe and The Boston Herald, as well as several community newspapers in the metropolitan Boston area.