A couple of blog posts ago we wrote about the key to keeping clients and keeping them happy. Today, following the same vein, we thought we’d talk about the foundation of client management – how to build strong client/customer relationships.
Relationships, including those you form in business, are a bit like a jigsaw puzzle. Some pieces fit together perfectly, some mostly fit and you can sort of put the piece where you think it will fit longer term and, some, well, they just won’t fit and are likely to damage your puzzle if you persist in trying to make it fit.
The ones that fit beautifully not only form a great picture, they also make the puzzle more structurally sound too. And, in a business context, the clients that fit well are generally going to be your most profitable too.
The biggest mistake so many business people make is thinking that somehow when they do business, there’s a fundamental shift in how you should operate. But at the end of the day you’re still human and therefore, you still operate the same way you do when you’re dealing with non-work things (although you’ll probably need to draw on more justification than “I did it because I wanted to!”)
So what’s the key to building lasting and profitable relationships?
- Honesty – it’s the make or break for any relationship. An honest and open relationship will allow both parties to build an ongoing partnership, make mistakes, get over them and continue on. That takes a willingness by both sides to be both honest and accept
feedback. Honesty in the relationship will also create a bucket load of trust, creating the potential for longevity.
- Fit – Before entering into a relationship with any client or business, learn as much as you can beforehand. Check them out on social media, Google them, see if where they’re heading is where you’re wanting to go. Things to watch for include values, interests and what you think they might need and whether or not that fits with your core offering. Use your research to determine whether or not the client is right for you and be prepared to walk
away/help them find someone else if they’re not right for you. From time to time, reassess existing client fit too. Not every client will grow in the direction that works for you and your business.
- Listen – An equally mutual relationship will consist of enough listening from both sides of the relationship. Communication is crucial so you need to make sure that there is plenty of two-way communication taking place. Make sure YOU listen.. but also make sure they are listening to you. If they aren’t putting in their 50%, maybe it’s time to ‘talk’.
- Be yourself – People do business with people, not companies, so it’s important to be authentic. Being yourself will build more trust and rapport – even if you have the world’s quirkiest sense of humour – the clients who love quirky humour will love you for it. Let people see the real you, both the professional and the individual. Ultimately, it makes the relationship personal and real.
- Make your customers feel like they’re your number one – This is maybe the most important tip of all. Always go the extra mile where you can. Offer clients a real coffee when they visit. Send them a birthday or a thank you card. Celebrate their wins, ask about the things that matter – to them. You don’t have to be about grand gestures. It’s the small things that often make the biggest differences. And deliver on your promises. If you’ve said you can do x, deliver x really well. And if anything threatens your ability to get x across the line in a timely fashion, go back to point 1.
It really is quite basic when all is said and done. People want to do business with people that make them feel good and deliver what they said they would.
If you’re after an accounting firm that actually make its clients feel good and delivers what they say they can, we’d be delighted talk to you. You can call Kerry on 6023 1700, drop us a note or connect with Kerry via LinkedIn.