Everyone wants client loyalty, and it is one of the core motivators behind most of our business maneuvers. Needless to say, most people realize the importance of building strong and lasting client relationships but are not certain as to how to go about achieving them.
The ‘know hows’ of client relationships is especially important for start-ups and small-scale businesses. These businesses rely on word of mouth more than any other type of establishments, and who better to spread the word than a satisfied client, who couldn’t be happier with the result they got, and the relationship they built.
One thing is for certain that this process is not an overnight one, it takes time, patience, and a lot of grinds. It entails not just providing the best results to your client, but also making the process of getting that result smoother, and more pleasant for them.
The service that they come to you for is naturally expected of your business, while your behavior should be a bonus to that.
Here are a few common yet essential tips that the industry experts swear will improve your business client relationships:6 Top Practices to Make Better Client Relationships 1. Know your Stuff
You mustn't appear out of your depth regarding your own business. Do your homework, and be ready for any questions a new or potential client can throw in your direction.
Curiosity is a sign of interest so be willing to engage in and encourage their curiosity. Chances are you might be convincing them, subconsciously, to try out your different services as well, also the more they know about your business the more likely they are to tell others about it.
Do not be embarrassed to admit that you do not know something. Seems contradictory, but everyone knows how easy it is to be caught off guard, and having a business doesn’t ensure that one would know everything about that industry. Practice saying, “I’ll look into it,” and “I’ll get back to you on that.” If you have been in a client's position before (which we all have at some point) you know it is better to hear that than have incomplete or incorrect information.
Client relationships are precious, and straightforward communication is essential to them, answering their questions with honesty and efficiency is a stepping stone to achieving that.2. Be the Expert and the Bigger Person
Piggybacking off of the first point, you must establish yourself as the expert. In addition to answering their queries and dissuading their doubts, don’t hesitate to recommend better alternatives. Be assertive about what you think might be a bad business decision.
Do not get defensive if it seems like someone is undermining your business or your expertise. Building trust while essential for client relationships is also a slow process; taking undue offense can bring that process to a screeching halt. Patience is the key, but understanding social cues is the blueprint; if a confrontation seems inevitable, then maybe it's time to divert the topic.
Remember, you are free to let go of deals, but a bad reputation might be difficult to shake off.3. Be clear about Expectations
Set clear expectations for yourself and your client. Your partnership is a mutual dynamic and not a one-way street; you cannot be the only one doing all the work. Communicate what you need from them; urge them to be as particular about deadlines as you are.
Files, documents, data, or raw material, whatever it is that you need from your client, should be clearly stated and communicated; not only at the beginning of your relationship but also throughout the transaction. Insinuate that their feedback, at appropriate times, is imperative to the smooth sailing of the work, and maintaining lasting client relationships.
Your client has expectations from you (that is the reason they are there in the first place ), but what is it that you expect from yourself? What do you hope to achieve through this client relationship, and how do you wish to see it executed? Be clear about these expectations and aim to exceed them.4. Be Thorough
Cover all your bases, and note that stuff down. Human minds can be fickle and it is easy for details and promises to slip one's mind, so taking note of your interactions is not only a preventive measure but also a good practice for record-keeping.
Use a good CRM tool: several online platforms provide a good Customer Relationship Management interface, (https://www.salesforce.com/crm/what-is-crm-infographic/0) you just need to stick to one that covers all your needs. Update your notes with each new development, and correspondence with your client, and refer back to these notes before impending meetings.
Remember, your client is just as fallible, so it doesn’t hurt to advise them to do the same. Efficient record-keeping on both sides makes it easier to figure out if you’re working at the desired pace, and if both you and your client are on the same page.5. Be Transparent and keep your cool
Mistakes will be made and situations might arise when both you and your client would need to count your losses. Just like personal or romantic relationships, these situations are exactly where your business-client relationship will be tested.
Don’t be secretive and evasive, if the mistake was from your side, admit it. Admitting it to not only your client but also yourself is the first step. Your next step (and ahead of your client!) should be to find a solution, not just one but as many alternatives as possible; this the time where you need to reestablish your expertise. And you absolutely cannot afford to show your panic in front of your client, you’ve asserted yourself as the expert and now you need to carry that forward.
The good news is, it is universally understood that strong relationships are forged out of tough times. Your client is aware of the prospect of misshapes (regardless of whom they choose to do business with), in addition to that, now they are privy to how effectively you can overcome them. So, this hiccup is not necessarily the end of your client relationship, but rather another opportunity to prove you.6. Avoid Burnout
Just like most things in life, building client relationships can get tedious, because they require you to up your ante and stand firm in your business persona quite frequently. Test the waters of a slightly more personal and casual dynamic with your client. Humanize yourself and let your personality shine through.
Set realistic goals for yourself and give yourself breaks; work diligently but do not slave away. It is not helpful to either your business or your client if you are burnt out. So, don’t hesitate to step back for a minute, and if your current schedule doesn’t allow that then maybe it’s time to re-evaluate your strategy.Conclusion
Lastly, you must trust your instincts. Instincts are not something that can be rationalized or summarized; they are innate and get polished with experience. You need to pay attention to your instincts and take advice from them, but of course, don’t let them take over your decision-making.
These tips are just basic tools, you are the one who needs to paint and frame the pictures. Use these as a launchpad to build your own ideas, and approach each new client with a fresh and evolved perspective.