Meaningful Client Relationships Take Time and Effort
Relationships are the axle around which life turns; whether its with family, friends or in business, they are the foundation to a happy and healthy life. Nurturing these relationships, in all areas of your life, takes some effort, and though you may not categorize your client relationships in the same plane as your personal ones, it’s important to recognize that they can all be nurtured in the same basic ways. The age of technology has given us ways to automate certain aspects of our lives; its often possible to navigate through an entire day without the need to speak to anyone in person. The ease with which we can fall into the pattern of assuming an email will do the job is startling. The time-proven truth is that personal relationships can directly influence whether your business succeeds or fails.
To quote a man who knew a thing or two about nurturing a love affair between a client and a product, “Do what you do so well that they will want to see it again and bring their friends.” Walt Disney.
However, when you’re trying to grow a business, providing quality product is not enough. Your clients need to feel like they are part of the whole picture. This cannot be accomplished through e-interactions alone. The love for your business must come from their understanding that they are more than a “saved” contact in your autodial. A client-focused culture should fuel the need to produce an outstanding product. When you are genuinely engaged and listening to what your client needs and wants, you are more likely to create a relationship in which your client is an advocate for your business.
Today’s reality is that at any moment, an unhappy client can share their opinion with the masses through social media, and the reputation you’ve worked so hard to build can be affected negatively very quickly.
So… How do you make a client fall in love with you?
Keep it Real
Remember names, listen carefully and genuinely respond to issues, concerns and questions – small details matter. Even when delivering less-than-happy news, when you don’t remain personality-less, you are far more likely to have an interaction that both you and your client can learn from. Transparency assures that your client is felt included and considered, and this carries a great deal of weight in a world that often seems impersonal and isolated. Treating others the way you’d like to be treated is our rule of thumb.
Don’t be too Sales-y
Learn to judge when the time is right to sell a new or improved feature or product to your client. This is where emotional intelligence comes in and learning to “read the room” – body language, yours and theirs, the choice of words, all of this is a factor. Find the right tone: be professional but keep it light when you can; this is often a winning combination. If in doubt about whether the time is right to sell, take a moment and ease into it or wait. Too pushy doesn’t always yield the results you’re hoping for and can bring down the room quicker than you can say, “PowerPoint presentation with 350 slides!”
LISTEN, Listen, listen
Take the time to call when you can’t meet, and when you do, have a two-way dialogue. It’s easy to lose patience when you think what is being asked for is unreasonable, but carefully consider all that is said; there are always ways to find a compromise you can all live with. Your clients are the lifeblood of your organization, it’s important to remember this AT ALL TIMES.
Honesty is Key
Be realistic about the services you can and cannot provide and the questions you can and cannot answer. This honesty will help build trust between you and your customer. A foundation built on honesty will reap large dividends in the long-term.
Meaningful relationships take time and effort; if you take them for granted, expect too much, or appear apathetic, it can cost you dearly. Remember to remain mindful and you could pave your career with relationships that will last a lifetime.