Things you can do to improve your client relationships
��Anyone involved in doing business knows the importance of strong client relationships. Over the past years the international business world recognised the vital role that these connections have on small and large enterprises. In fact, there is a whole school of thought based on the belief that businesses should stop classifying themselves as B2B (business-to-business) or B2C (business-to-consumer). Because all businesses are human-to-human, or H2H.
Behind every business there are people with likes and dislikes, passions and ambitions, personal stories and unique personalities. And when two people build a trusting relationship, whether this happens at school or in the board room, they are bound to work well together. Here’s how to nurture relationships with your clients - to make work more than just about business.
Get to know their industry
Your starting point must always be research. Learn who your client is and take the time to understand the industry they operate in. There’s no need to become an expert. Having a basic overview of the industry will help you keep up with the conversation and understand the challenges faced by your client. It’s the first step towards a long partnership.
Be open and transparent �
You’re about to meet a new potential client. She or he will have lots of questions about your company’s services. This is your chance to set the foundations of a solid relationship - with honesty and transparency. Be honest about the services you offer and the time it takes you to deliver them. Don’t try to make yourself sound “bigger” by pretending you do what you �don’t. Your client will eventually catch you out.
Set clear expectations �
Now that the client knows who you are, the next step in to set clear expectations. Don’t promise a job by the end of the week if you know it’s impossible to complete work, that’s up to standard, within that timeframe. Explain why you can’t deliver so soon - and gain respect for being frank and valuing quality. Make sure your client knows exactly what you will be delivering and how much it will cost. And don’t try to sell them what they don’t need.
Maintain open communication
So far you’ve sown the seed of a healthy working relationship. It’s time to start putting down roots. Remain in contact with your client throughout the project. Answer any questions and concerns they may have, positive or negative, immediately. You will understandably be juggling various projects and your workload will involve several clients. But remaining accessible to clients is key.
Bonus tip: Respect your client’s time. Make sure you are punctual for meetings. I�f, for whatever reason, you’re running late on something - let your client know with a quick phone call.
Get to know your client
Take the time to connect with your client on a human level. Swap stories and not just stats during your meetings. Share some personal stories and listen to their experiences and anecdotes. For example, if you’re about to give a big presentation to a client who imports cars, start off by talking about how you felt when you drove your first car. Talking about what their product meant to you, as opposed to churning out car-sales statistics, will make you instantly more relatable.
Bonus tip: Listen to what your client has to say and take a mental note of things that� matter. Remember how he pronounces his unusual name. How are the children? Did she enjoy the restaurant you recommended? Truth is, as you build a relationship, this will start to come naturally.
Maintain a positive attitude
Things might not always go smoothly. Your client might not be satisfied with the work carried out by one of yo�ur team members. Maintain a positive attitude and don’t bad mouth colleagues in front of your client. This will reflect badly on you and your team and leave the client questioning if he can trust someone who doesn’t have his people’s back.
Bonus tip: Sometimes plans fail. Something you presented to your client is not as successful as you intended it to be. If this happens, be honest about the situation. Invest in understanding what happened, then communicate it to your client together with a possible solution.
Show your client that you respect their views and their need to know what’s happening. Walk them through your processes. At the end of each meeting take a few minutes to clearly outline the next steps - what they will in�volve and why they are being done. Apart from managing expectations, this level of transparency will help build trust.
Once you’ve set those clear expectations - exceed them. You can do this on many levels. It’s not just a matter of delivering a quality product on time. It’s about going the extra mile. You can start with the small things, such as serving delicious treats and healthy snacks during your workshop. Providing two big ideas to choose from, rather than one. Being available whenever the client needs you.
Always be human
At the end of the day the essence of building a strong client relationship boils down to being human. It’s about showing your client that you care about their business. That they are more than just a cheque to you.
Bonus tip: Keep in touch with good clients. Pick up the phone to say: "hi" or catch up over a coffee, even if you’re currently not doing work for them.
Maintaining a great relationship with existing clients is key to any successful business. And so is opening your business up to new customers. Make sure you are there to be found by listing your business on Yellow.
Discover the power of strong business relationships - www.yellow.com.mt