Most clients – in fact, the majority of them – will do business with you because of who you are. Knowing how to build and maintain client relationships is key to your business success.
Strengthening client relationships ensures you have a steady stream of returning customers who are more likely to buy your services again. In fact, returning clients spend more, are keen to try new products and have a greater potential to increase your revenues long term.
Requiring less of your energy and time, happy customers also provide free marketing when they tell their family and friends about you.
Research collated by invespcro.com shows returning clients can boost your profits by up to 90% when compared to new clients. So the big question is: how do you build strong client relationships and keep them coming back for more?
5 tips to improve client relationships and build bonds that last
Whilst working for PR companies, I would always be assigned the clients who were seen as difficult (I like to call them disappointed). When meeting with new or potential clients my bosses would always ask me to come too.
It wasn’t due to my cute face (believe me!) or my ability to speak several languages, it was because my bosses had noticed clients trusted me. How did I do it?
It is often said, successful relationships are about who you are, rather than what you do. There may be tons of competitors out there offering the same services as you but there is only one you. The way to stand out from your contemporaries is through the service you provide.
Deliver a memorable service and you’ll outshine your competitors quickly.
Having a good knowledge of your products, services and industry is important but the truth is only a tiny proportion of people will choose to do business with you because of what you know, most people will select you because of how you came across during your first encounter. Provide a fantastic experience and you’ll retain first time customers long-term.
This is how I kept and still keep my clients happy:
Communication is important in any relationship. To build strong relationships with your clients, always be honest and transparent. Keep your communications clear and simple.
Make sure your clients know what you will be doing, why and when. Keep them up to date as projects progress and always give answers that are honest and concise.
Reliable services are hard to find. It is easy to say you can deliver but it is much harder to do it. Be reliable and realistic. Tell your clients what you can really do and when.
If you don’t think something will work or could be done a better way – tell them, they’ll appreciate your honesty and you’ll avoid being in the undesirable position of trying to provide the impossible. Deliver on time and always ensure your end results exceed your clients’ expectations.
Get to know who you clients are. Be personable within a professional context. Learn a little about them as a person without overstepping the boundaries of professionalism or sounding disingenuous.
Discover what they really need from your service now and consider what they might need in the future. Remember every client is an individual with specific needs and priorities so your services should always provide tailored solutions, designed to meet their needs.
Helping your clients towards the next step, whenever possible, is a great way to help them get to the next level in their business.
Don’t stop at single targeted tasks. Create a plan that combines them in short and medium term goals so that you can pave the way towards success over the long term.
Always aim for a win-win outcome that ensures both you and your client are satisfied at the end of a project. Going the extra mile to find workable solutions that leave everyone happy, will impress your clients whilst showing you really care and respect them as a person.
And the difficult ones? What do you do when confronted with clients who are tricky to please or sound unhappy with your services?
Improving relationships with difficult clients
As I found success with more and more clients, I noticed the issues labelled as difficult were actually about disappointment.
Clients were either disappointed with what they had received or hadn’t really been sure about what they needed in the first place, so the service given hadn’t matched their true needs. There is, of course, such a thing as a “bad client” – read my blog 6 signs it’s time to ditch a client to find out more.
By listening really carefully to what these clients were both saying and leaving out, I could identify the source of their disappointment and take immediate action.
Once I understood what the client perceived we had not done, I would acknowledge it immediately and begin to seek solutions. In doing so, I showed that I truly cared about their experience and was able to do whatever was needed to ensure their wishes were met.
Again offering win-win solutions is key. Focus on the main source of your client’s disappointment. By alleviating the biggest pain point you’ll begin to restore the relationship to a workable level.
As you do so, you’ll rapidly see trust begin to flourish, openness return and the relationship improve quickly.
Focus on results
During future conversations, I always keep the focus on results. Avoid getting bogged down in processes and remind clients about the many tangible outcomes you have achieved for them in the past.
By being honest, listening and delivering an exceptional level of service, you can secure your clients’ trust and win further business. Your strengthened client relationships will save you so much money and time.
Constantly searching for new customers is a huge drain on your revenues. Just look at these figures on customer acquisition costs from invespro.com:
- It costs five times more to attract a new customer than to retain existing ones.
- You are 60-70% more likely to sell to an existing customer, whilst only 5-20% of new prospects are likely to buy from you. Additionally, returning customers spend 31% more and are 50% more likely to try new products.
- Increasing customer retention levels by a mere 5% increases profits by a whopping 25% – 95%. 1
Don’t forget: clients are people, not just names
The bottom line is your clients are real people. Like you and me, they have needs and expectations. When they access your services, they don’t expect you to be perfect, but they do want you to be honest and have their best interests at heart.
Understanding this universal truth should be at the heart of your customer service and the driving force behind your products or services. By building and maintaining strong client relationships, you’ll quickly see your revenues grow.
Do you find you’re not getting the right clients for your business? There could be an underlying problem. Book a 20-minute session with me today and discover how you can ensure the right clients find you