You probably think of your business in terms of the goods or services it provides to clients. While the product is the ultimate measure of a company, there’s another aspect that is just about equally important: relationships. You really can’t be competitive in the business world, especially in the B2B space, without fostering healthy interactions and understanding between your team and clients. Here are five tips for building positive client relationships.
Be Receptive to Feedback
It’s easy to be dismissive when a client is unhappy with one of your services. Oftentimes this is just shrugged off as a client being difficult. The problem with this mindset is that you won’t learn from your mistakes. Of course, there are some times when clients are unreasonable. But most of the time, they just want the have their order fulfilled to meet their expectations. Being open to suggestions from clients, or even incorporating feedback into the way your business does daily operations, will help you be more responsive to client needs.
Establish a Routine Contact
Keeping a routine with your clients is beneficial for a few reasons. First, a continual dialogue will ensure that there’s no confusion on the specifics of a project. Letting too much time elapse between communications will just result in misunderstandings. It’s also a good idea to have the same people contacting specific clients for every interaction. This is often accomplished in the form of account managers. But it can really be anyone as long as they are comfortable speaking with clients. Consistency—both in interval and personnel—is a crucial part of building strong client relationships.
Lying to a client will almost never work out well for you. And even if it doesn’t negatively affect you the first time you do it, not telling the truth will come back to haunt you eventually. There are a few ways that businesses tend to lie to clients. The first is by exaggerating a product or service to get a sale, only for the customer to realize you can’t actually offer them the thing you promised. In some cases, this can result in a lawsuit. But even with professional liability insurance (which protect companies from litigation), you shouldn’t make a practice out of over-qualifying your goods. Businesses sometimes try to shed blame when they make a mistake. This will also hurt your client relations in the long run. Own up to things when you make an error. Even if the client is upset at the situation, they will at least know they can trust you to make things right.
Spend Time Learning About Their Company
You aren’t going to do a particularly good job providing services for a client if you barely understand their business. Take some time to do a bit of research about their organization, and their industry as a whole. You don’t need to be an expert in every field (although, that won’t hurt you). But you should at least be able to carry out a conversation with a business owner about their company. Otherwise, they’re just going to find someone else who gives them more individualized attention.
Show Them You’re Thinking Ahead
Too often companies get in the habit of damage control, or playing catch up, and fail to help the client see the future. It’s your job to help clients understand why your product or service is useful to them, and how your organization can do a better job of meeting their needs than a competitor. It’s a good practice to restate future goals after every meeting you have with a client, to help them stay committed to your relationship.
You can’t run a successful business without customers. Because of this, you should dedicate a lot of time to ensuring that your clients are happy with your services. Following these aforementioned steps will go a long way.