7 Effective Steps for Building Strong Client Relationships
Did you know that on average, a business loses around 20 percent of its customers annually? And this is simply by failing to attend to customer relationships!
Businesses are often under the misconception that customer relationships are supposed to be simple and transactional. But if your goal is to build a business that stands the test of time, just landing a new client doesn’t mean you’re done developing the relationship.
Instead, you have to foster and develop your transactional connections into long-lasting mutually beneficial relationships.
Now, why is forging effective client relationships so important?
- By developing great, long-term relationships with your clients, you are more likely to receive repeat business from your existing clients.
- Your satisfied clients might also recommend you to their friends and contacts, leading to new business opportunities.
- You can also differentiate yourself from your competitors by building even stronger relationships with your clients.
This leads to the next major question – How to build a positive relationship with clients?
Well, here’s a sneak peek at the 7 steps that we believe are key to building strong client relationships!
- Getting to know your clients
- Communicating effectively with your clients
- Embracing your role as the expert
- Maintaining a positive attitude
- Refraining from making it all about business
- Delivering results that exceed expectations
- Asking for feedback
Let’s dive into the details!
1. Getting to know your clients
You need to understand your clients and their needs to serve them in the best possible way and build a lasting client relationship.
For this, you have to collect information about your clients in order to meet their expectations.
For example, if you are an independent consultant, when you first make contact with a potential client, you have to do your own research about the client as well as their industry, and collect details like:
- Products and services the company (your client) offers,
- Target audience and the end-users of their products or services,
- Budget, current pain points, and the expected outcome of this project,
- Major competitors, what makes them different from their competitors as well as their industry,
- Past projects and strategies that have worked and not worked,
- The company’s mission, values, and short-term and long-term goals,
- The company’s internal team structure, and the interests and preferences of the individuals you’ll be working with, and much more.
Picking up their industry-specific jargon will also help you speak their language and understand their pain points and needs better.
Similarly, if you are a hair salon manager, you can gather personal details and preferences of your customers like the type of shampoo they like, their favorite salon staff, treatments, etc. Store each and every customer’s information in a separate database and take a look at those details prior to their appointment to provide them with personalized experiences.
You can also figure out whether your client is an introvert or extrovert and engage them accordingly. For example, highly talkative clients wouldn’t like it if you maintain pin-drop silence while attending to them!
2. Communicating effectively with your clients
Communication plays a pivotal role in building relationships with clients. Your client should always have the freedom to tell you if they have any opinions about their experience, hence it is vital that you establish open lines of communication with them.
The below-mentioned points can help you communicate effectively with your clients:
- You can communicate with your clients in multiple ways. You can interact through phone calls, emails, and instant messaging in addition to in-person meetings.
- You should also get to know how your clients like to connect and fit their preferences – do they prefer instant messaging, or is emailing more convenient for them? This will help you reach out to them through a mode of communication they prefer.
- In case you have to email your clients, it’s important to keep the following points in mind while writing those emails:
- Make sure the conversation is professional and clear
- Don’t provide information that’s irrelevant
- Keep things short and to the point with a clear purpose or call to action
- When a client emails/messages you, acknowledge its receipt as quickly as possible, even if you do not have the answer they are looking for. Let them know that you’re on it.
- Don’t use emails to replace in-person communications. Sometimes it’s better to pick up the phone and have an actual conversation. Your clients will appreciate your effort.
- You should also remember to communicate in a straightforward and honest manner.
- No matter what the situation, never engage in angry communications with clients.
- You should never speak about one client to another, as that is unprofessional and inappropriate.
3. Embracing your role as the expert
Trust is a key ingredient in a strong client relationship, and it’s easily earned when you show yourself to be exceptionally qualified and self-assured in your craft.
Becoming reliable in the eyes of your client is more than just delivering what you promised.
You can demonstrate your skills by explaining to your client all the relevant procedures or products that you have used, and their benefits. This will keep them in the loop, and build trust and confidence in your capabilities.
For example, if you run a make-up studio, always let your clients know about the features and quality of the products that you’re using to enhance their appearance. If you’re a hairstylist, your clients will definitely appreciate it if you share the latest hairstyle trends and the best hair care products available in the market.
Another great way to show you’re an expert is to be a reliable resource for them to ask questions and learn from you. You can also extend advice that goes beyond the limit of your service upon their request.
For instance, if you’re a personal trainer dealing with clients trying to lose weight, you can offer them helpful tips to make their diet healthier and reduce their calorie intake, in addition to guiding them through their workout routine.
Confidently express your honest opinions. Don’t tell your clients what you think they want to hear or withhold your true opinion. If you communicate your true opinions on a particular subject, clients will respect your desire for excellence.
For example, let’s say you’re a consultant dealing with a client who has big aspirations, but you’re not sure whether those plans will actually work. What you can do is, show your expertise by expressing your concern by saying something like: “We agree that this is a great idea but this could pose some challenges to us. Over the coming days, I’ll keep an eye on it and get back to you once I find something conclusive.”
4. Maintaining a positive attitude
It’s important to show a positive face to your clients and exude energy and confidence, even when you feel stressed out or overwhelmed. Have a pleasant smile on your face, always. This can ease out any worries your clients may have, and help you in building and maintaining client relationships.
If any mistakes or mishaps occur, you should address the issues right away and apologize to your clients if you’re at fault. If your client is upset, then let them talk it out and listen to them, show eagerness to solve their concern, and then adopt the approach of working together to come up with a solution.
No matter what direction the conversation takes, it’s important to maintain empathy and positivity at all times.
Always use polite language like,
- “I understand what you’re talking about and I’ll definitely look into this.”
- “That really is frustrating, we’re glad you brought this up with us. We’ll take care of the rest from here, and make sure you don’t find yourself in this spot ever again!”
If your client has any specific requests or suggestions, try to accommodate their needs to the best of your ability, and remain open-minded when fielding their questions and suggestions.
If you maintain a positive attitude, this will be infectious and those around you will pick up on your positive energy as well. This can help you have and maintain a successful business.
5. Refraining from making it all about business
Creating a genuine personal connection is key to establishing a successful client relationship.
Acknowledging your client as a person – that is, more than just a paycheck – helps in strengthening your professional relationship. Build a great rapport with your clients by having small talk and getting to know them better, outside of transactions.
For example, you can:
- Offer recommendations on places to visit for an upcoming vacation.
- Acknowledge accomplishments that have nothing to do with your work together, like their recent promotion.
- Ask how their children or pets are doing, if you know that your clients have kids or pets at home.
- Surprise your loyal clients with a token of appreciation after key business milestones.
- Send them a greeting card over the holidays or on their birthdays and anniversaries.
Treating your client with warmth and courtesy is important. But, it’s also important not to overstep your professional boundaries. A healthy mix of personal and transactional interactions is the best for a successful client relationship.
6. Delivering results that exceed expectations
Putting effort into developing your reputation as someone who delivers exceptional results is key to making a good impression on your clients and positioning yourself as someone they want to keep coming back to.
It is important to determine what would be valuable to your clients and understand your capabilities and limitations. You can follow through by setting realistic expectations and timeframes right from the start. In addition to just delivering on what you promise a client and meeting their expectations – you can try to exceed them.
For example, if you’re a consultant working with a company on a project, you can exceed their expectations by:
- finishing the project ahead of schedule
- delivering the project in an aesthetically pleasing format
- including a small value-adding feature that enhances the finished results
Also, make the best use of every opportunity to turn a disgruntled customer into a brand advocate. With this in mind, apart from fixing their problem, you can look for opportunities to take it one step further.
If it’s feasible, you can offer them a freebie or an upgrade. These little extras will be the memory that your customer takes away from the interaction and, ultimately, the opinion they pass on to family and friends.
7. Asking for feedback
Creating a client relationship where feedback is respected and shared freely sets a foundation for successful long-term relationships.
It’s important to tell your clients upfront that you are open to, and encourage, any and all feedback they have.
You’ll gain valuable insights into what is working well about your product or service, and what should be done to make the experience better.
You can collect feedback through surveys (prompted feedback) or you can find reviews posted online by your clients (unprompted feedback).
With Appointy, you can easily request reviews from clients, post their appointments, and display those reviews on your Booking Page to build a respectable brand!
Sometimes, customers don’t offer important feedback because they don’t think anyone cares. Many of those same customers may be willing to leave feedback if they knew they’d hear back — and exactly when to expect a response.
Consider adding a short sentence like “We’ll get back to you within X hours/days” to your surveys so that people know how soon they can anticipate hearing back from you.
By asking your clients for feedback, you also communicate that you value their opinion, and listening to them helps you create long-lasting relations with them. They’ll feel that your primary business goal is to solve their problems and fulfill their needs, not just to get their money.
It is very important to take their opinions seriously and incorporate any relevant suggestions and changes to improve the overall customer experience.
Building client relationships off the ground can take a lot of time and effort. But nurturing a client relationship is definitely worth it.
As you go on building strong client relations, your business also expands into bigger and better things – either through repeat business or through referrals to new clients.
You need to realize that there’s no one-size-fits-all approach to client relationships.
Since each client is unique and has different expectations and business needs, it is up to you to use the best practices to find a tailored approach that serves your prospects and clients best.
In this era where technology has been constantly evolving, having a Customer Relationship Management tool can be a boon for your business.
Appointy is one such online scheduling software that has an inbuilt Customer Relationship Management (CRM)! This can come in handy when working on building strong relationships with your clients. With Appointy, you can utilize intake forms to ask for relevant client information prior to appointments, store key customer data in one place, request for reviews post the appointments, and do much more – from a single interface!
Finding it hard to believe us? Try it free for 14 days and find out yourself!
We at Appointy, help business owners grow and run their businesses with our online scheduling software. This blog was a part of our ‘Manage your Business’ category, where we provide expert tips, resources, or simply talk about the challenges that small and medium businesses face every day.
If you have any thoughts on this blog, or would like to chat about your business struggles and achievements, let us know in the comments below.
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