Taking the time and effort to build good relationships with your clients can be key to the strength and success of your business. Focusing on your existing clients as well as seeking new opportunities is a clever business move if you consider that happy clients mean repeat business, referrals and recommendations. With this in mind, we focus on 7 best practices when it comes to building client relationships.
Maintain good channels of communication
Without bombarding the client with information, ensure that they are kept informed on the progress of a project and fully understand the plan. Take their concerns and creative ideas into account when brainstorming. Ensure that you acknowledge queries quickly, even if just to let the client know that you are working on their request or awaiting further information. Sometimes a phone call or a face to face meeting can be a better solution than an email in order to avoid any misunderstandings and work on building the client relationship.
No matter how much pressure you are under you should aim to exude positivity and calmness when communicating with your client. A calm exterior will instil confidence in the client and reassure them that you are completely in control. Showing enthusiasm for the project can be infectious and builds the client's anticipation to see the end product. Aim to be someone that people look forward to working with.
Try to get to know your clients a little better
Understanding their personality and their interests enables you to make small talk and allows you to communicate with them on a deeper level. This can be a small thing such as finding out that they have a family and asking how their kids are doing at school. Allow them to learn a bit about you too. If a transaction can be elevated above something that is more than purely financial then both parties in the business deal are likely to feel more fulfilled at the end of the process.
Help your client to understand
They may not know much about your area of business and may feel a little out of their depth. Helping them to understand the process and what you were trying to achieve will help them feel more at ease and have more confidence in the job that you are doing. Empowering your client makes for a happier experience for them. Try to summarise each conversation to reinforce the plan for the next steps. This helps to clarify the details and helps the client to fully comprehend the plan. Understanding your client's industry a little better may help you to use language and jargon that they feel comfortable with. It may also help you to understand what their expectations are likely to be.
Building trust with your client is crucial. If for any reason delays or increased costs become a likely outcome, then be very open and clear about this in the first instance or as soon as you find out. A client will appreciate your honesty rather than finding out later that you've been covering something up throughout the process and may feel let down at a later stage. If you lose the client's trust, you may face a break down in the relationship. They are much more likely to respect openness and honesty. Some problems will be out of your control, but they will appreciate you doing your very best to manage a project to meet their expectations.
Go the extra mile and exceed expectations where possible
Promise targets that you know that you can reasonably meet, stick to them and then add some finishing touches to surprise and delight. A client will remember when you've gone the extra mile when they're deciding who to hire next time. Be sure not to take this too far though and find yourself out of pocket.
Treat all clients equally
Finally, treat all clients equally. Whether an SME or multinational, you never know who they maybe refer you onto, how big the business will grow or where your contact will go to work next. Every client is potentially your most important one, so treat them as such.
Are you putting best practice into play in all your client interactions?