4 Tips for Better Client Relationships
Today, we are rounding up our 4 tips for better client relationships. With three decades under our belt and some longstanding client relationships, these lessons serve us well. Some we have learned the hard way. So, we hope this list helps you benefit from our experience. Now, let’s talk about how to build the kinds of client relationships that make you proud – and profitable.
1. Be a Partner, Not a Provider
Truly successful client relationships are partnerships. They are based on mutual support, trust, and commitment to success. Presenting yourself as a partner to a prospective client does not mean that you are changing the work you are doing. Rather, it indicates a collaborative mindset where you are working in tandem with your client on behalf of your client’s business.
The provider mindset is the typical “let’s get in, get the work done, and get out.” This is not a mindset that creates strong relationships. Even if you do great work!
For one, it is easy for the client to say thank you and goodbye at the end of the project. The client is not unhappy. But there is no reason to continue the relationship beyond initial service delivery.
On the other hand, if you have long-term relationships in mind, you must approach the client as a co-creator of solutions. Present yourself (and conduct yourself) as a reliable partner. You are the one your client can turn to with questions and for support. This goes beyond the immediate services you provide.
2. Solve Problems
Of course, mindset is not enough on its own. You need to be good at what you do. No matter your individual area of expertise, it is your job to solve problems for your client. So, make sure the quality of your work is strong enough to carry through on the promise to be co-creators of solutions for your client.
To ensure this, pay attention to the internal needs of your organization. Put good hiring practices in place. Conduct trainings and maintain professional development opportunities for your employees. Stay on top of emerging technologies. And make sure to keep up with the changing demands of your own field, as well as the changing demands that your clients and their customers present.
Always approach work for your client with their needs and their customers’ needs in mind. Signing the contract is not the most important thing – not even for your business. Solving your client’s problems reliably, consistently, and better than your competitors, is the most important thing.
3. Know What You Don't Know - and Refer Others
There are plenty of times in the life of every business when you realize that your client has a problem you cannot solve. It could be because that problem is out of scope. However, it could be because you and your team do not have the resources or the expertise to solve that problem.
Now, you may understand that you lack that expertise, but you want to keep the client so desperately you say you can do what you can’t. Then, you scramble to find a way to deliver on a promise you never should have made. This is how you lose a valuable client.
There is power in saying no. You confirm your area of expertise, and you respect your client’s time and money. There is also power in making connections. Just because your client has a particular need you are unable to solve, does not mean you need to remove yourself from the equation entirely.
Take the opportunity to work your network. Connect your client with a provider you trust to solve their problem. That way, you continue doing what you do best for your client. In this scenario, you are not letting down your client. Instead, you are giving them the chance to appreciate your honesty and expertise. By doing this, you are, in fact, helping your client solve a problem. Only, you are doing so in a different way.
4. Grow Together
Your success is your clients’ success, and vice versa. Make sure that, from the outset of your client relationship, you build a path to grow together.
This means revising contracts as each business evolves. It also means looking at opportunities for future growth and collaboration.
Especially in the technology and engineering field, the services and solutions we could offer clients ten years ago are vastly different from those we offer today. Think about the ways in which contactless service has evolved in the last decade. And that is just one example. Now, if you have a shared growth mindset with your clients, you are operating in an environment that invites you to introduce new technologies to your client organically.
Because you are growing together, your client understands that, when you offer a new way of doing things (or even a new suite of services) you are not trying to “upsell.” Rather, you are inviting your client to grow along with you.
Of course, it is important to understand how your client is growing. Listen to your client. Read news about your client. To build that better relationship with your client, remember to tell your client how you are enhancing your capabilities, too. You never want a client to feel like they have outgrown you.
If the last time you walked them through your services (or even your processes and procedures) was when you signed that first contract, you can’t blame the client for assuming you are stuck in the past.
Bonus Client Relationship Tip
This brings us to the bonus tip on our last. Never take your longstanding client relationships for granted.
Keep communicating, always. Deliver consistent, quality work. And remember to include your clients in your story. At the end of the day, your relationship will be stronger and more lucrative. And both your businesses will be the better for it.