Building a relationship with clients is one of the most important things you can do to make a business thrive. Not only will this keep your current clients, but it will potentially bring in new clients. This article in the Entrepreneur gives us five ways to build customer relations. Number five says that loyal customers will be the best salespeople. This is why it is important for us to have strong, long-lasting client relationships.
So how do we build the relationships that we want with our clients? I did some research and found a Forbes article that contains eight tips for building long-term client relationships. These tips are:
- There’s no such thing as over-communicating
- Be a useful resource
- Be honest at all times
- Always meet your deadlines
- Eliminate surprises
- Think of clients as more than just “clients”
- Reward your loyal clients
- Have a vision of partnership
The article takes all of these and discusses them with a decent amount of detail. I’ll let you read those if you want. In my opinion, from this list it seems that communication is the key to success. At least half of the tips are fully related to communicated well with your clients. They also seem to be fairly straightforward and things that should always be done anyway. One of the best business people to date, Steve Jobs, took client relations incredibly seriously. One of his most famous quotes is directly correlated with this issue.
What does our book have to say about building strong client relationships? Well, the book also gives us eight tips. This time the tips are numbered.
- Put yourself in your client’s shoes
- Find out what a real win looks like for your client
- Suggest changes to your deliverables if necessary
- Show them your commitment
- Take responsibility in getting your point across
- Tailor your message to the client
- Demonstrate integrity
I now will hit some of the high points for each of these tips.
- Your client is putting a lot on the line when they decide to trust you. The risk that they take could be terrifying, and you need to think about that from their perspective while working with them.
- Get personal with your client. Talk to them about the project. Get the story behind it and what they plan to do with it. Listen first, then ask questions to clarify. Make sure that you know exactly what the client wants, even if they do not know exactly what they want.
- This ties in with the point above it. After listening and finding out what they want, suggest things to your client that you think will do exactly what they want.
- Show them that they care. Show the emotions that will show them that you are excited to work with them, not because of the money, but because of the project. Make them feel like more than a checkbook.
- Sometimes geeks are less than great at communicating. Make sure that your client really understands what you are saying. Ask them questions and have them ask questions. Keep them engaged so that you can make sure they are getting the point.
- Everyone is different, so everyone should be talked to differently. Figure out what works with you client and go from there.
- Do all the things that you are supposed to do. Show up to meeting, return emails, keep them updated. Show them that you can be trusted to do what you are being paid to do.
- Finally, give them a finished project.
If you want to be a successful business person, you have to be able to communicate. I once heard in a bible study that communication is the highway for relationships. Communication is hard, but with practice it will make a huge difference in your business success.