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Relationships with Clients: A Cautionary Tale

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A business’ relationships with clients is one of the few relationships that a business must get right.

From a strictly business perspective, relationships with clients are sort of like a romantic relationship in that you both suppose to be satisfied with how the relationship is going.

No, everything is not perfect, but its not bad enough for both people to start seeing other people.

However, within the relationship someone is “with the other”, indicating that one of the people is settling with the other.

In the case of business, the client is the one settling with the business.

Assuming that the business is not a monopoly, the client has other options to choose from and thus brings more leverage to the relationship. With that in mind, it is up to the business owner to make sure the client is satisfied.  

Anticipating Customer Needs
Not only is developing relationships with your clients a smart move from a marketing standpoint, but it also helps you to anticipate client needs and perform ongoing adjustments so you can improve your business over time.

When you take time to understand your clients’ needs, you will be in a better position to ensure client satisfaction with your products or services, and align yourself for new opportunities. You may even increase the possibility of referrals and increased word-of-mouth marketing. Here are some ways you can work on strengthening your relationships with your clients.

Get to Know Your Clients
Even if you think you have a good understanding of where your clients are coming from and what they need from you, you may be surprised at the many ways you can get to know them better. Consider letting your conversations get a little personal by sharing what you do during your off-hours, information about your family, etc. It doesn’t have to be intrusive, but sharing non-work information occasionally can strengthen your clients’ relationships.

Do Exceptional Work
It’s obvious that when building relationships that the quality of the work you do should be exemplary. If you’re not making your clients happy, it will be virtually impossible to forge long-lasting relationships. Aim to exceed their expectations whenever possible, and demonstrate how you can become a valued extension of your clients’ businesses.


Communicate With Your Clients Regularly
Consistent and effective communication is important in all relationships, particularly relationships with your clients. You can create the habit of practicing good communication by being responsive to client calls and emails, scheduling regular check-ins, sharing company news, and interacting with your clients across social media, if appropriate. In general, remaining in regular contact and keeping your clients in the loop can go a long way.

Ask for Feedback
It’s important to ask for client feedback after individual projects or when reaching milestones in long-term projects. You can take a formal approach by using a client satisfaction survey or ask them informally during a conversation. The most important step of getting client feedback, however, is having a plan for addressing any concerns or criticisms and being committed to improving your business processes.


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Rely on Your Expertise
Many times, your clients will welcome and appreciate suggestions on how to do things better or more effectively. Use your experience and in-depth knowledge of the work you do in your business to help your clients develop solutions that surpass their initial expectations. This can be accomplished by comprehensive consulting, or even more informally, such as by sharing tips, advice, and resources that will help your clients in their own businesses.

Cultivate Partnerships
By considering each client relationship as an ongoing partnership, you can move the relationship to a collaborative, mutually beneficial partnership. This focus can make you more successful at building a sustainable relationship instead of simply doing the work and moving on. And you never know where you might find an opportunity to create a joint venture and work together in a whole new way.

These tips will help you solidify your client relationships and create a strong foundation that will help you grow your business to new levels.

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Conclusion

One of the best adages found with relationships with clients is that the “customer is always right”. Its is important to keep this in mind to not lose sight of the fact that it is the customer who is paying the bills of the company.

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