March 23, 2017
Imagine this common scenario…You receive a phone call from a business you’re already dealing with. Let’s assume that it’s an Internet service provider:
ISP: Hi, this is X ISP. Who am I speaking with, please?
Wait, what? Aren’t you already a client? Have they not even bothered to check your name from their record? But, for the sake of saving precious time, you proceed with the conversation.
You: This is Jeff, how can I help you?
ISP: Jeff, we’re based in yadayadayda……and we offer impeccable Internet provision services yadayadayada…..Would you be interested in joining our growing network of satisfied clients?
Then it hits you. This company seemingly doesn’t even have an idea that you’ve already subscribed to their services. How offensive!
Of course you can let this roll off your back. But then again, they already have your name and full contact details. Plus, you’ve been diligently paying your bills, and possibly even referred a soul or two to them. You don’t deserve to be forgotten, and worse, have it rubbed in your face.
With 67 percent of consumers claiming that they terminate their brand loyalty because of poor relationship and bad treatment, I bet that you’d pretty much be on your way out after such a call. Interestingly, customer relationship is significantly more critical than even product price and placement. That’s why 97 percent of customers are likely to become more loyal to a company that values their relationship and subsequently implements their feedback.
To help you grow your business based on this, here are seven secrets of impeccable relationship with your clients:
1. Always Be Transparent With Your Clients
While stretching the truth and exaggerating on the efficacy of your products and services could win you a couple of clients, it can ultimately hurt your business and overall reputation. Business disputes with clients, more often than not, arise from misunderstandings due to lack of adequate transparency and exposure.
Thanks to the Internet, today’s clients are well-informed about different products and their corresponding capabilities. They can tell a lie from a mile away. So, to save yourself from embarrassment and subsequent fallout, be transparent with your clients as much as possible. Although being realistic about unavailable products and services could lose you some clients, the bulk of them will appreciate your honesty. In the end, you’ll build way more relationships than you’ll have broken.
2. Accommodate Extra Client Needs
As you continue expanding your business and client base, there are a couple of times when you’ll have to make adjustments to cater to special client needs. In most of such cases, you may be required to expand your normal capabilities and resources to adequately meet unique product and/or service requests. Of course this could affect your overall profitability and business convenience, but thankfully, clients will always remember times that you went that extra mile for them. That’s why 56 percent of clients believe that personalized incentives considerably improve brand consideration.
Additionally, going the extra mile could gradually help you discover new opportunities that you could capitalize on, and consequently increase your revenue streams. As a result, your business may even start expanding faster than you anticipated.
3. Approach Every Client as Your Most Important One
Treating clients according to their spending abilities is a common business mistake. Although the biggest clients in Fortune 500 companies may be bringing in the big bucks, it’s advisable to extend special treatment to even the smallest customer. Simply put, you should be treating every client as your most important one.
With time, this will improve your relationships, get you noticed, and earn a couple of referrals. And since you’re never aware of each client’s connections, you may be surprised that a small customer is actually well connected to the big brands. Even when they’re not, today’s smallest brands are tomorrow’s biggest companies, and it’s amazingly pleasing to be a trusted partner fuelling that growth.
4. Keep in Touch Regularly
Have you ever had a close friend you used to keep in touch with regularly, until you started falling out? It begins with one missed call or e-mail, then you go an entire day without speaking at all, then a week, and ultimately you go for months without a single word. As a result, your friendship takes a beating, and rekindling that connection may need some work.
That’s pretty much the same case in business. While you could salvage your friendship after such a radio silence, it may not end well when it comes to clients. You need to keep checking up on your customers, reminding them that they are valued, and why they should stick with your products and services. Thankfully, there are a host of platforms for constant communication, with e-mail marketing, social media, blogs and text messages being some of the most predominant ones.
5. Be Cognizant of Body language
Non-verbal communication, especially when you’re dealing with clients, is as important as the corresponding verbal communication. People can interpret, subconsciously and consciously, how you actually feel about them through your body language. So, even though you’re tired after attending to a thousand clients, your body language should still be respectful and friendly. Every client is unique and should be treated as such.
A good way of making a friendly connection through your body language is smiling, maintaining eye contact, and keeping your both your legs and arms uncrossed. Above all, don’t overthink things. Be yourself, make your client feel comfortable, and everything will flow smoothly.
6. Be Responsive
Well, of course lifestyle coaches insist that entrepreneurs and consultants should only limit their businesses within standard work hours: 40 hours a week. But, interestingly, the average self-made millionaire in the U.S. works for 59 hours a week. As a matter of fact, many work for 70 or 80, because they understand just how important their businesses and client relationships are. So, when a client attempts to get in touch, even if it’s right before bedtime, try your best to respond as fast as possible.
Acknowledging e-mail receipt for instance, is arguably way more important than worrying about giving the right answer later. Clients derive comfort in this, and they often feel more confident dealing with businesses that promptly respond to their queries.
7. Be More Than Just a Business
Building a stable relationship with your clients could be less complicated if you also focused on knowing each other beyond the standard business-client engagements. Invite your clients for cook outs, business parties, or even coffee. If that seems like a stretch for a small business, something as subtle as birthday gift cards could work as well.
That way, you’ll connect beyond the professional environment, and possibly build successful friendships, consequently growing your clientele base and fuelling overall business growth. Don’t be just a business, be a friend as well.
As you’ve already established by now, building a successful relationship with your clients is not rocket science, and doesn’t need overstretched PR budgets. Even the smallest companies can outpace the largest, most established brands if they thoughtfully and strategically employ these secrets.
Rachel McPherson is currently working as the vice-president of communications at Active Collab. After finishing her master's degree in communications she pursued a career in the digital industry, most notably in marketing and public relations.