Managing client relationships is one of the most important things you can do in an organisation, because without clients, there is no business. While a lot of effort is used to win new business, this is actually the easy part. In an increasingly competitive and cost-conscious market, the real challenge is keeping them, meeting their needs, and managing their satisfaction.
Here are 8 key things to remember in your efforts to retain clients.
1. Under promise and over deliver
Never vice versa! A client needs to be able to trust you and your professional opinion. Whether it’s time frames, goals, their expectations of your service, or feedback on how they are performing, it needs to be accurate and honest. Their levels of trust in you will diminish with every delayed deadline, unkept promise or unsatisfactory delivery.
2. Communication is key
Trust and loyalty will increase with open, honest and prompt lines of communication.
Ask yourself, are you being completely transparent with your customer? Are you delivering the feedback they need to hear and not just the feedback they want to hear? Weekly or monthly reporting can be an efficient and easy way to keep clients up to date. Even if there is nothing new to update them on, most people will appreciate a monthly or weekly email to recap developments.
3. Alignment of goals
In the initial stages of a project, it is vital to get a clear understanding of what the client’s goal is in bringing your services onboard. What is it they are trying to achieve and do you agree that it can be delivered? Without this alignment of goals, how will both you or the client be satisfied when the job is done? Client satisfaction comes from having a problem solved so make sure that both you and your client are on the same page as to the ultimate goal of the project. Having a shared goal not only motivates you to work harder for each other, but gives you a commonality that can boost your relationship.
4. Add value
If you can bring more value to their business than just your core offering, you become indispensable to a client and a true partner to their organisation. Try providing your clients with relevant and helpful industry insights and advice that suits their needs and interests. This not only shows that you understand and acknowledge their needs, but also that you care about the success of their organisation. Providing timely and valuable content is also a great way to keep communication flowing, opening another avenue for contact.
5. Be adaptable
Nowadays, a ‘cookie cutter’ approach to service delivery is not what people want and it also reduces your pool of potential clients to only those who fit exactly into the service you offer. Adaptability is the name of the game! A client will be more willing to retain your services if you can adapt and customise your delivery to suit the changing needs of their business. So think about how your model of service delivery can be customisable and tailored to the specific needs of the client.
6. Same page
Often your delivery of service will depend on your client’s involvement. They may need to provide certain information or feedback to you in order for you to complete the project and therefore it is imperative that you are both on the same page when it comes to timeframes.
Assess whether everyone is working towards the same completion dates.. If you are not on the same page, communication and transparency lines need to be developed during the initial briefing stage, when expectations are agreed upon and mapped out. Check out our blog about defining a process to help you establish a clear methodology.
7. Delivery > Schmoozing
Actions speak louder than words. Prove your worth through your delivery rather than schmoozing and sweet talking. Your client’s time and money are valuable, and they have selected your organisation to solve a problem for them. Show them why they were right in choosing you and why they should stay with you.
8. Treat every client as your most important one
No one wants to feel that they are just a number. Each customer, regardless of their size, needs to feel important, valued and acknowledged. Customers take a leap of faith when selecting their suppliers, and they want to know they have made the right choice. The way you treat clients after the completion of a project is very telling as to whether you truly value them or whether they were just a source of revenue for you. Keep up your customer service and support after the completion of a project in order to establish yourself as someone who cares about their success. You will be rewarded with not just their loyalty; they will become brand advocates and will refer you to other businesses.
Client relationships are the same as any other relationship. They require regular attention, maintenance and effort. While they must be mutually beneficial, they need to be approached with a willingness to give, support, add value and share.