Without a doubt, building a strong client-firm relationship can be beneficial for both parties involved. The same rules as with any other human relationship apply here as well; honesty, exceptional communication, and general openness will do wonders for your working relationship. However, failing to do so might result in a loss of reputation for your company or see you missing out on the opportunity of a lifetime. As a result, it could spell disaster for your company seeing how, as with human relationships in general, trust is not so easily gained and it takes ages restoring it once it’s lost. Hence, you need to maintain good working relations with your clients at all times, otherwise you won’t be able to retain them for very long. So, here are a few effective strategies that might help you achieve just that.
Be transparent and be honest
Never lie to one of your clients, for quite obvious reasons. You want to build your relationship on trust and not deceit. Be honest and transparent with them. Know your limitations and don’t promise anything you cannot complete on time, or at all for that matter. If they have expectations that are too high, don’t be afraid to point them out as you’re the expert here, not them. Educate them on certain matters and offer your expert opinion when needed, to help them make the right choice. Don’t let them make a rash decision which they’ll regret later on, as you’ll take the blame for not stopping them. This way they’ll learn to value your opinion even more.
Get to know them better
Being honest will only get you so far, you need to take it to the next level and turn your professional relationship into an interpersonal one. Set up a meeting and greet some of your top clients in person, you’d be surprised how simple small talk can go a long way. Always keep a positive attitude and ask them how their day was and try to get to know them a bit better. After all, with the sheer amount of work and business dealings, it’s sometimes easy to forget that at the end of the day, we’re all humans. Likewise, be open with them as much as possible and even ask for feedback to find and address their most pressing concerns. Listen to what they have to say and they’ll respect you for it.
Establish clear communication channels
Similarly to the previous point, maintain regular contact with your clients. With today’s technology, this should be like a walk in the park. Skype, various project management platforms and even social media are all excellent communication channels worth noting. Another thing, you don’t want to keep your clients in the dark, thus you need to send them reports about your progress rather frequently. You want to provide evidence of how successful your campaigns actually were, so they can rest assured that their money was well spent. Especially so if you’re working as a digital marketing agency or ecommerce marketing, providing some concrete proof that your online marketing strategies are bearing fruit is essential. Still, this can be extremely time consuming, more so if you have a large number of clients. For this reason, you should opt for SEO reports, which will save you a lot of time and money, so you can focus on the more important aspects of your business, such as growth.
Keeping up with the deadlines
Not adhering to strict deadlines can undo all of that hard work you’ve invested so far into building a solid relationship with your clients in a blink of an eye. Breaking deadlines can cause a lot of frustration on both sides and strain your relationship even further with each day the agreed project is not complete. Moreover, you want to have a reputation as someone who’s reliable and gets the job done no matter the odds. This professionalism will bring in a lot of new clients into the fold, while also keeping your old ones equally satisfied. If your project managers are having a hard time keeping track of everything, you need to consider using project management tools such as Basecamp, Asana, or Redmine to make sure everything is going according to plan.
Don’t settle with just a good relationship with another company and go the extra mile. Form a partnership that’ll be mutually beneficial for both sides. Consequently, for this to work, both of you will need a more cooperative mindset, it’s not every man for himself but rather you’re in this together. Find ways to complement each other’s strengths and weaknesses and use that to your advantage. Share the knowledge you’ve collected thus far and give them access to your operations if possible. This camaraderie will bring your companies closer together and strengthen the bond between you.
In conclusion, treat your clients as you would other individuals. Act natural, be reliable and stay sincere, pretending will only destroy your good relationship and the reputation you’ve worked so hard for.