Relationship-building with a new client starts on day zero. From the very beginning, before a client even thinks about signing on to work with you, you need to be laying the foundation for a strong relationship.
While many factors lead to your success, one essential step is creating a solid foundation of clients who return to you over time and send future business your way through referrals. Strong client relationships are much like any relationship. They require communication, empathy, and dependability, and most importantly, customer satisfaction influences a company’s profitability.
And here’s how you can do that.
One of the best ways to help build strong client relationships is to develop a reputation as a professional who delivers exceptional results. Make sure that you don’t oversell yourself and promise unrealistic results.
By setting reasonable expectations, you give yourself the opportunity to completely impress the client with the final project and position yourself as someone they would like to continue to work with. Consider your client and determine what would be valuable to them. It could be as simple as delivering the project in an aesthetically pleasing format, hand-delivering the materials and giving an in-depth walkthrough or demonstration, or including a small value-adding feature that enhances the finished results.
For loyal clients, a token of appreciation and thanks after key business milestones or around the holidays can be an unexpected pleasure that strengthens your professional relationship.
The key here is to find the opportunity to go above and beyond in a manner that your clients will appreciate.
Be honest with your clients
In order to build strong and lasting client relationships, they must be able to trust and rely on you as an expert. That’s why it’s crucial to maintain a policy of openness when it comes to your professional opinions and point of view regarding the best interests of the project.
It can be tempting to want to appear agreeable and avoid uncomfortable confrontation by telling a client what you think they want to hear or withholding your true opinion about their project. However, these practices are not only counterproductive but can also damage your reputation, decreasing your chances of a lasting relationship. By confidently expressing your honest opinions, clients will respect your initiative and desire for excellence.
Maintain a positive attitude
As stressed out or overwhelmed as you may feel, it’s important to show a positive face to your clients. Exude the energy and confidence that you want your clients to feel about your work. Enthusiasm and zeal are attractive personality traits that people enjoy being around and that clients enjoy working with.
By considering each client relationship as an ongoing partnership, you can move the relationship to a collaborative, mutually beneficial partnership. This focus can make you more successful at building a sustainable relationship instead of simply doing the work and moving on. And you never know where you might find an opportunity to create a joint venture and work together in a whole new way.
Be a person, not an email address
Put personality into your communication whenever possible and allow clients to know a little more about you and your business. You don’t want to feel like some faceless entity they only email when there’s a problem. Instead, they should have an emotional connection with you and your business, and that only happens when you make the interactions personable.
Show gratitude for your clients
You can find, “We appreciate your business.” on just about any invoice template. If you want your clients to believe it, though, you should demonstrate your thankfulness. This can be a small gesture like a handwritten thank you note or a personalized gift. Or, it could mean creating a culture of gratitude, where you look for ways to give back to your clients. Perhaps you invite them to a regular lunch or coffee session, or even a zoom call, where you offer valuable information to help them succeed? This is also a great way to show that you are the expert and want to exceed expectations.
Treat every client as your most important one
Simply put, happy clients are more likely to make referrals. Provide all clients with your best service, regardless of whether they are a Fortune 500 company or a small business.
You never know who your clients may know or to whom they will refer you. Just as importantly, when they switch jobs, either within their company or to a new one, you want to be the partner they recommend to their new team.
Lastly, it is important to remember that today’s small companies could be the big companies of tomorrow, and it’s incredibly fulfilling to be a trusted partner fueling that growth.