7 Tips to Deliver Great Client Experiences

If you’re at all like me, you’re probably feeling a mixture of excitement and nerves as you prepare to work with a new client for the first time. Especially if they’re a “dream client.” You want to provide the best customer-centric service possible, but might be a bit scared about something going wrong. Luckily, there are a number of things you can do to make sure you and your client both have a great time working together.

Table of contents: 7 tips to ensure a successful experience

  1. Share expectations with the client
  2. Establish best practices for working together
  3. Set guidelines for deliverables
  4. Formalize the project scope
  5. Schedule check-ins and milestones
  6. Have a plan to troubleshoot problems
  7. Welcome client feedback

Before we dig in, I want you to take a moment and remember that the client chose you based on your expertise and experience. You’re more than prepared for this work. But you’ll have to get comfortable with the idea of working through some bumps in the road.

In all my years freelancing, I’ve found that it’s practically impossible to have a perfect experience like we might imagine it in our heads. Your ability to prepare, adjust, and adapt is what really will make your customer service shine.

Ready? Let’s crack on. These are the seven things I always do to give my clients (and myself!) a great experience.

1. Share expectations with the client

Creating a great experience starts from your very first meeting with a new client. As you begin to discuss working together, be clear about the days and times you’re typically “in office”, as well as what you need from the client in order to make the project successful.

That last point is particularly important.

I won’t accept a contract until I’m confident that the client understands what I need from them (specific files, data points, systems access, etc.) in order to do the job, and we have a plan in place to share information. And once I accept a contract, I don’t start work until the client has provided what I need to do the job successfully.

Sharing expectations goes both ways, too. Your client should communicate what they need from you regarding deliverables, turnaround time, and more. Getting aligned on all of these matters right at the beginning will reduce the likelihood of friction later on. If your client isn’t communicating what they need, ask them!

2. Establish best practices for working together

This goes hand in hand with sharing expectations. You’ll want to make sure you and your client are in sync regarding how you’ll work together.

While it’s important to make your client happy, it’s also okay to express your workflow preferences and needs. Remember—you’re the expert, and that’s why they’re working with you!

I like to cover all of the following when establishing best practices:

  • The level of communication I will provide, including the frequency and format of updates (communication is absolutely key when it comes to winning and wowing clients!)
  • How quickly I typically respond to emails or messages from clients
  • The tools I prefer to use when communicating with clients
  • My preferred project management systems and tools

Now, while I have systems and tools I like to use, flexibility is also important. I may agree to adapt some of my processes and preferred programs in order to suit the client’s systems. (I find this is particularly relevant if the client is part of a large company, where they may have an established process for working with all freelancers.)

I don’t hesitate to introduce tools or processes that I know will improve the client experience, though. For example, if I’m working with a client in another time zone, I may introduce some new tools, rather than playing a continual game of scheduling roulette. The built-in scheduling feature in Upwork Messages is one really helpful example—if the client doesn't know about it, I'll show them! I find that most clients are happy to learn about any tool that can save them time.

3. Set guidelines for deliverables

There’s a bit more work to do before you accept any new contract. You’ll want to also make sure that you and your client are on the same page regarding:

  • What work is to be completed
  • What format the work will take
  • How the work is to be delivered
  • When the work is to be submitted

It’s easy to fall into the trap of over-promising when you want to impress a client—such as saying you can deliver work in a format you’re not familiar with or on a time frame that will be difficult to achieve.

Remember that it’s better to under-promise and over-deliver than the reverse. While a client may want work to be completed on a very rapid time frame, they’ll ultimately be more pleased with quality work delivered in a realistic turnaround time than late or shoddy work that you’ve rushed.

4. Formalize the project scope

Establishing project scope up front will really help in terms of establishing guidelines around deliverables. Project scope creates boundaries around what you are and are not responsible for doing as part of your new contract.

While you and your client may agree on project scope during a call, the details should be written down and included in your contract as a project scope statement or statement of work. This is very important as it will help you avoid scope creep.

Scope creep is when the client’s work requests begin to move outside of your established boundaries. For example, if I’m hired to conduct market planning and research for a client and they begin to ask me to work on building new landing pages for their website, this is outside of the project scope. It happens to be something I can do, but we’ll need to create a new contract with a new project scope statement before I begin that work.

Clients may not realize when their requests turn into scope creep. It’ll often be up to you to refer back to the statement of work and let your client know what falls outside of the established scope.

5. Schedule check-ins and milestones

Regular check-ins and milestones are important in order to gauge success and remain aligned with your client on the project process.

Milestones are a default part of fixed-price contracts on Upwork, which is nice. However, if each phase of your project takes several weeks (or months!) to complete, this can be a long stretch of time to go between client updates. Establishing your own schedule for regular check-ins is a really good way to provide exceptional customer service. You’ll also want to create regular check-ins for hourly contracts, too.

I like to offer my clients a weekly or monthly update, depending on the volume of work we’re doing together. Personally, I find Loom to be a nice way to deliver these updates—I can record a quick video walking through what I’ve done, and my client can watch it at whatever time suits them best. You can send a Loom video through Upwork messages, so it’s really simple.

6. Have a plan to troubleshoot problems

While all of your advance planning and communication should help to eliminate any big problems, unforeseen issues may crop up from time to time. You may have trouble accessing a client’s system, a file could become corrupted, or you could simply experience a miscommunication or mistake.

Make sure you have a plan in place to guide how you will address and rectify any problems. It’s a good idea to exchange written messages whenever you’re discussing changes to work—this way you have a record to refer to. You’ll know exactly what was agreed upon in terms of deliverables, payment schedules, systems access, and more.

Whenever I have a client meeting, I’ll send a written recap afterward to serve as this record. If a problem arises, I’ll notify the client, cross-check my notes to see what was requested or discussed previously, and formulate a plan from there.

7. Welcome client feedback

I think the best way to ensure a great client experience is to listen to what your clients say about working with you. Upwork automatically requests client reviews when you close out a project, but you can also keep an open dialogue with your clients as you work with them.

Client feedback


Positive feedback is great, of course, while negative feedback can be hard to hear. Whether positive or negative, try to look at all feedback as valuable information that you can use to grow and improve. If you’re still working with a client when they give you negative feedback directly, this is a great opportunity to see what you can do to rectify any issues and improve their satisfaction level.

If the feedback is delivered in writing—such as in the form of an Upwork review—after a project is complete, you can choose to either reply or simply take it as information to consider when you evaluate your processes. (I don’t reply to feedback on my Upwork profile, but there are other freelancers who do!)

And, once you’re a Top Rated or Top Rated Plus status, you can request to have written negative feedback removed from your Upwork profile if you think it’s truly unwarranted.

Making great experiences easy

When all is said and done, a lot of delivering a great client experience come down to:

  • Setting expectations
  • Communicating clearly
  • Keeping good records

One of the reasons I’ve chosen to build my agency on Upwork is that the platform makes it really easy to deliver a great client experience. Everything I need to communicate with clients, collect payment, share files, and schedule meetings is all in one spot. If you’re ready to start finding and working with new clients, I can’t recommend it enough. Sign into your Upwork account to start building great new client experiences today!

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This article was submitted by and expresses the views and opinions of the independent freelancer listed as the author. They do not constitute the views or opinions of Upwork, and Upwork does not explicitly sponsor or endorse any of the views, opinions, tools or services mentioned in this article, all of which are provided as potential options according to the view of the author. Each reader and company should take the time needed to adequately analyze and determine the tools or services that would best fit their specific needs and situations.
This article was submitted by and expresses the views and opinions of the author. They do not constitute the views or opinions of Upwork, and Upwork does not explicitly sponsor or endorse any of the views, opinions, tools or services mentioned in this article, all of which are provided as potential options according to the view of the author. Each reader and company should take the time needed to adequately analyze and determine the tools or services that would best fit their specific needs and situations.
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Ross J.
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