For most businesses, business development and attaining new clients is a part of the day-to-day operations, but maintaining and strengthening client relationships can be equally, if not more, profitable. Cultivating a reliable and collaborative partnership between you and your client can not only result in added contract longevity and additional projects, but can also deliver you to your greatest (and most complimentary) lead sources - referrals!
Client relationships, just like any relationship, requires communication, trust, and reliability.
Here are five easy tips to improve and maintain relationships with your clients:
1. Have reliable communication
As with any relationship communication is absolutely key to a long and healthy relationship. Keep all communication timely, efficient, and most of all, consistent. Not every client prefers to communicate the same way, so find out what method of communication they prefer and, if possible, do your best to accommodate. In a time where most of our interactions are digital and clients are able to work with business partners halfway across the world, take the opportunity to meet face to face if/when possible.
While this is a professional relationship and you want to maintain an elevated level of communication as such, don’t be afraid to see the client beyond their role with the account and show some personality. Be willing to share a little about you and humanize yourself beyond your emails and orders of business - really connect with them.
2. Take a personalized approach
Relationships aren't one size fits all and what works with one client, may not work with another, so it’s important to know your audience and adjust accordingly. Mirroring your client’s body language, communication style, and demeanor will help to build trust and rapport within the account.
It’s often easy to get hyper-focused on the work and small gestures unrelated to the task at hand can often be forgotten, but memorable things such as remembering birthdays or anniversaries, or delivering a client’s favorite treat they’d mentioned in conversation weeks back really do go a long way in strengthening your relationship.
3. Listen, really listen
There is nothing more valuable than a co-collaborator that is truly collaborating. Encourage the client to provide feedback, on all aspects of the relationship, and then act on the feedback, right away. Hopefully most of the feedback you receive will be positive, but when it isn’t (it happens to the best!) take responsibility for the negative feedback or mistakes, even if it’s not your fault. Taking charge will earn the client’s respect more quickly than placing (or displacing) blame. On the flip-side, be willing to speak up and transparent about your opinions so that the relationship isn’t a one way street.
4. Set clear expectations, for both sides
While in most cases you’re hoping to have a collaborative relationship, don’t forget that you’re the expert and they came to you because they needed your guidance. Clearly defining deadlines and operational processes from the beginning helps minimize friction and mistakes, as well as provides reassurance to the client that you’ve done this before and have a strong understanding of what needs to be done. Whether it be a new client or a new project for a long-time client, leave no room for uncertainty and be consistent in both expectations and delivery.
5. Display gratitude
Displaying gratitude goes beyond just thanking your clients for choosing you as a partner. While having a collaborative and communicative partner is what we expect, this isn’t always the case, so give credit where credit is due. Have clients that are always timely, thoroughly communicate, and provide thoughtful feedback? Let them know how much you appreciate these things.
Want to go above and beyond just expressing thanks? Donate to a cause in your clients’ industry, or donate to an organization your business supports, on their behalf. Here at The Diamond Group, we’ve created a program called TDG Gives Back, where we each submit organizations we individually support and then each client gets to choose which of these programs a percentage of their annual contract will be donated to.
At the end of the day your client most likely has the same desire to maintain a long and strong relationship with you as well, so embrace the collaboration, stay humble, and enjoy a great partnership!
We would love to have a conversation and discuss the potential for a long lasting professional relationship. Please visit The Diamond Group website to learn more.
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