A good client relationship can mean that you become a true partner to your client and their business success. They trust and listen to you and as a result, your relationship builds and expands into bigger and better things, either through longevity, additional projects/business, or the biggest compliment - referrals to other clients.
But building a strong relationship goes beyond delivering within the scope of the contract. Although that is of course crucial, for them to be a profitable client, there are certain fundamentals that should be fulfilled to help you wow your clients and reaffirm your partnership.
There are some key fundamentals you should consider when building new client relationships:
1. Acknowledge Your Client as an Individual
Clients are people first and foremost so take note of things they tell you about themselves, where they are going on holiday, any upcoming events or how many children they have and make a note to ask about them the next time you speak. This will go a long way in showing a client that you care, not just about the revenue they are generating for you, but them as individuals.
Following these key steps will ensure you build a strong and trustworthy relationship with your client and you’ll find that your relationships will go from strength to strength.
2. Focus on exceptional communication
Communication plays a pivotal role in building strong relationships with anyone, but especially with clients. While I would always encourage face-to-face or phone conversations, it’s likely that most of your communication will be done via email.
Therefore, you should always write emails that are clear and concise. This means not rambling or providing information that’s irrelevant, keep things to the point with a clear purpose.
Call or meeting follow-ups are also key. After any conversation with your client, send them an email to recap the action points that have been agreed upon. This ensures everyone is on the same page and the client knows exactly what to expect and when.
3. Set expectations and deliver on time
This leads nicely on to expectation setting. It probably goes without saying but the key to keeping a client happy is delivering what you have agreed when you agreed. If possible, you shouldn’t just meet expectations, you should try to exceed them with positivity and results.
Setting realistic expectations is really important, try to be conservative when setting a client’s expectations, that way if you meet deadlines early or surpass results, it will only paint you in the best light possible in the long run. Keeping the client informed of progress along the way ensures that the client is never left wondering what you are working on or when they will receive the agreed deliverable.
4. Create accountability for both parties
We all know what we are accountable for in our own jobs, but what about the client - What are they responsible for? Partnership is a two-way street, and the best partners hold each other accountable.
So it’s perfectly acceptable (and crucial) to set clear expectations for your client as well. What deadlines do they need to meet? These should be clearly outlined from the very beginning of your relationship and reaffirmed that the client’s inability to meet deadlines can result in targets not being met.
5. Ask for Feedback
Getting feedback shouldn’t be left until the project is finished. It’s wise to ask your client on a regular basis if they’re happy with everything or if they have any concerns in the way you are working or the work that is being delivered.
For example, if you have a new client that you have just finished onboarding, give them a quick call to ask for feedback on how it went and if there was anything they were unsure or had concerns about. That way, not only do you show interest in their opinion and happiness, but you also learn valuable information about your onboarding process for future clients.
One thing I would always recommend is to encourage an open relationship where feedback is respected and shared freely. This sets the foundation for a successful, long-term partnership. It also means that should your client be unhappy, they will speak with you about it, meaning you can fix any issues accordingly, rather than them looking to take their business elsewhere without giving you the opportunity to fix things first.
6. Be Solutions-Oriented
Mistakes and mishaps are bound to happen in some form or another, the key is how you handle and bounce back from them. Make sure you clearly communicate what’s going on and how you plan to rectify the issue. The client will then feel reassured that you’ve got everything under control and there’s nothing to worry about.
A strong client relationship can withstand mistakes so long as you’ve built the trust and secured your place as partners.