10 Ways to Improve Client Relationships
Have you ever been a customer to another person or company that has treated you badly? I have, and I bet you have too.
I have been yelled at, cursed at, and even threatened in the past, but I turned that person or company into a friend almost every time through my responses in each situation. One of the valuable lessons I learned through these experiences was that I should always treat the other person or company with respect even if I am treated badly or don’t agree with them.
This has led me to realize not everyone treats their own customers and clients as well as they could. For a business, unhappy clients can mean less business. Unfortunately, survey’s show 91% of unhappy customers simply leave the relationship. But your business doesn’t have to be one of the ones to get left behind by unhappy clients.
Keeping the lines of communication open goes a long way in the relationships you build with your clients. They need to be able to reach you when they have questions and needs by a phone call, email, text, or whatever other method you and they are most comfortable.
Make your communication with them about them and their needs, not about yours. This tells your clients that you value them and their opinions, needs, and desires. It tell them that you want to keep them happy and satisfied. In short, improving your communication through availability can go a long way toward improving your relationships with your clients.
Melody Van De Graaff has found that her web content writing business has grown since she made client communication a priority.
“I find that talking with my clients at least once a day makes our relationship better, and it helps us both understand what the other is expecting from our exchange,” she said.
At the same time you should not feel that you can’t let unreasonable clients know when they are abusing communication. For instance, when one client who only has a small percentage of your business, makes up the majority of your communications, it can lower your productivity and take up valuable time. It is ok to let needy clients know that they should be honest but also reasonable in their requests for your time. After all, you probably have other clients who need your attention as well.
2. Positive Attitude
If you were to ask several effective bosses or managers what one of the top traits is that they look for when hiring new employees you will likely get the same answer from each of them: attitude
The energy, spirit and attitude with which you conduct your business have a profound effect on how your clients feel about your relationships with them. In fact, it can either positively or negatively impact all of your business dealings both present and future with those clients. Staying positive and enthusiastic even when you are stressed makes them want to do business with you because you are pleasant to work with.
You should also stay positive and refrain from negativity about other clients or competitors. When you speak negatively or degradingly about someone else you can leave a bad taste in the mouth of your client. This will make them wonder what you say about them too.
3. Make Contracts Clear
Keep your contracts crystal clear so your clients know what to expect. Contract transparency can help both parties define their roles as well as improve communication, attitudes, and understanding. When everyone knows and understands the contract they will all be more satisfied.
Some of the things that can improve your relationships with your clients are similar to what improves some people’s personal relationships, including compromise. Once in a while you must be willing to give a little. It doesn’t always matter whether your clients are right or wrong in their requests. It matters more that you are willing to negotiate and work with them. Ask questions, solve problems, and for goodness sake compromise and work with your clients and you will keep them and improve your relationships with them in the process.
5. Go Above and Beyond
Anyone can provide good work for a client. What keeps them and makes them go, “Wow!” is not only how you treat them but also if you add that little something extra.
Always look for ways to wow them, give them extra good service and go above and beyond their expectations. Your efforts will be rewarded not only in your relationships with them but also in the additional business they bring to you.
One way to do this is by making suggestions for how clients can grow their own businesses. Alex Sheehan said she tries to find insights to help her clients improve other areas of their business.
“I try to find insights from my services that can be applied to other areas of their business. For example, if some of the competitive analysis I do reveals that my client’s competitors are all doing in-store events, but my client is only doing virtual events, I’ll let them know about the opportunity,” Sheehan said.
6. Request Feedback
Once a project is completed you could construct and use a client survey on satisfaction or just casually ask your customers for their opinions during a conversation or email. Find out what they like and don’t like, even when the truth might hurt.
The saying, “knowing is half the battle” is fairly true. Once you know what works and what doesn’t you have the chance to improve so you can make the next experience and client relationship even better.
When talking about communication it is important for you to realize it goes both ways. Sometimes you need to also share with your clients to help them gain better understanding of a process or project. Tell them why when deadlines can’t be met. Explain to them the reason things are done the way they are and they will trust you in all of their future dealings.
8. Get to Know Them
Ask and find out about your clients and customers. Check into what they do and how they do it. Seek out their frustrations and limitations. Whenever you can, change what you do and how you do it. Tailor your services to their needs and wants.
Additionally, find out information that has nothing to do with work, such as how many kids they have and what their interests are. Or, send information to them that pertains to their interests. Getting to know them on a personal level will make them feel like they are your number one priority and best customer. In turn the extra attention and knowledge can lead to repeat business and recommendations to others for increased business in the future.
9. Be Timely
If your customers has needs, wants, or questions they deserve to be responded to in a timely manner. When you respond swiftly, even if you must tell them you are working on it but have not resolved their request yet, they feel like you are keeping them in the loop.
Remember that you don’t always have to have an immediate answer. Your clients want to know you are working on their project or problem. Rather than focusing on having the right answers every time, focus on keeping your client informed of progress while you get to the bottom of a problem or finish a project. This builds trust and goes a long way in your relationship with your client.
10. Thank Your Clients
Your clients are not only your bread and butter but your reason for being when it comes to business. Thank them for choosing you to do their business with. Be authentic and kind when you thank them. Stay professional instead of cutesy when you use written communication in your thanks. A simple, “Thanks for choosing us to do business with,” written on the bottom of an invoice can suffice.
Improving your relationships with your clients is important for your current and future business well-being.