We’ve all been on the receiving end of a phone call from an unhappy client. And let’s be honest.
Those are just miserable to have to get through. You might think to yourself that that’s just one new client who didn’t know what they were getting themselves into.
But have you ever considered that those kinds of phone calls might decrease if only you build strong client relationships? A successful client relationship has a plethora of benefits that you have the ability to harness.
If only you put in the time and effort to get everybody on the same page. So, what goes into building strong client relationships? And how can you make for stronger client relationships in the future?
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What is a strong client relationship?
A strong client relationship is exactly what it sounds like. A positive relationship between the business and its clients.
Some tend to view this as a professional relationship. And while there are professional boundaries attached, a lasting relationship also depends on a little bit of personality.
That is, a personal connection, if you will. After all, nobody wants to be on the receiving end of a robot who just spouts out industry specific jargon. That’s not very personable, is it?
Why build strong client relationships?
Maybe you have other goals that you want to set for the upcoming year. But trust us when we say that building client relationships will jump to your number 1 priority as soon as you see the potential benefits.
Improved customer experience
Your company or small business may be impeccably well-run. But if the client’s expectations continually get let down due to lack of quality service, then it’s unlikely your small business will continue to thrive.
Ability to put the company’s mission into action
A company mission only means so much unless those words are put into action. So building good client relationships is simply an opportunity for you to demonstrate those values.
Increased potential to receive repeat business
If you’ve ever been in a long-term relationship, you know that you can trust that person no matter if you’re still in the relationship or whether it’s ended. Well, the same goes for a lasting client relationship – and it’ll garner you repeat business too!
New business beyond transactional connections
Building relationships is all about going beyond the first interaction. So make sure to show any potential client that you’re invested in their future business as well as their present company.
Provides a small value-adding feature to your company
Every small business with solid client relationships is sure to be held up on a pedestal in the community. Suffice it to say that if you’re got admirable relationships with your clients, other businesses will notice and maybe even follow suit.
The 5 ways to build better customer relationships
So, how do you build lasting client relationships? And where do you even start?! Don’t worry – we’ve got you covered.
#1. Gather information on your target audience
If you want to build a strong relationship with clients, you need to know exactly who your clients are. That means gathering as much information as you can and qualifying it as either “hard” information or “soft” information.
Hard information means the facts. Getting the statistics of what kind of a client you’re looking to form long term relationships with.
Are the majority of your clients in the hospitality field? Are they all from a particular demographic?
Where are they commuting from? What might make your services more appealing to them due to these types of information?
Soft information is about getting to know each client individually. And no, we don’t mean that you start instant messaging them on Facebook. (That’s creepy.)
But invite small talk when they come into the office. Get to know their expectations for the business in front of them.
And go above and beyond to meet those expectations. Clients will respond to such personable service and that’s the very basis of any strong relationship.
#2. Focus on communication
We can all agree that communication is the bedrock of any relationship – whether personal or professional. So how do you forge that kind of communication with clients in a way that comes across as self-assured and not desperate?
Check in frequently with a positive attitude
Let’s say you’ve got a project ahead that you’re working on with a client. Make sure to regularly check in with them to ensure that their business needs are being met.
And that the project progresses at a rate that is both satisfactory to them and reasonable for you. (This is also a good place to remind you not to push yourself or your company too far – especially if the client is asking for too much too fast!)
(Remember: communication goes both ways. And business is only as happy as each party involved.)
Ask existing clients for feedback
Maybe you have past projects that could have gone better but you’re wondering how exactly to improve. Well, why not ask clients for their feedback?
This way, you’re getting information directly from the source. And you can work ahead for the next business venture to ensure that every employee delivers exceptional results in the future.
You might think that clients like to know employees are exceptionally qualified at their jobs. But sometimes, the greatest qualification is the ability to learn and continually grow and improve.
#3. Exceed expectations
Maybe this goes without saying. But you want to wow your clients, don’t you?
That’s sure to inspire loyalty and repeat business. (Pro tip: hiring a virtual emcee at a client appreciation event is a great way to start exceeding expectations. They’ll never see it coming!)
Personalize proposals with a personal connection
Remember how we said to welcome small talk with clients? Well, small talk is a great way for you to listen and gather information on what exactly that client needs.
That way, you can sneak a solution for their issue into the proposal. And you’ll have killed two birds with one stone!
One with the proposal. And the other as an added cherry on top.
Create an onboarding process for new clients
Want to really wow your client? Then start up an onboarding process that welcomes clients into the fold and shows them just how invested you are in their business.
You can start with a welcome kit, take care of any housekeeping items, and finish off with a kickoff meeting. This way, clients know exactly what to expect from you down the line.
And besides, who doesn’t love a welcome kit? Especially one with an aesthetically pleasing format. Ooh, that’ll really knock the socks off of a new client!
#4. Treat client relationships like partnerships
It’s easy to view a client as the very person you’re trying to impress and serve. But viewing a client as a fellow partner on the project will do wonders for your relationship and continued business.
Include them in key business milestones
Yes, every client likes to be doted on and wowed every now and again. But after a while, that can get a little tiresome, don’t you think?
So be sure to include your client in the big milestones of a project. That way, they can feel like they are an active part of the team.
And that will only foster more trust between the two of you. Besides, you’re not there to be the corporate entertainer in their everyday lives. Although, getting one to come in doesn’t sound like a bad idea either!
Tell the truth from the very beginning
If you’ve ever been a client anywhere, you know what it’s like to be lied to right off the bat. You know, being sold overpriced expectations and unreachable goals that simply can’t be fulfilled.
So approach your client like a human, not a business venture you’re desperately trying to sell. Be honest with them and tell your thoughts of the project from the beginning.
That way, your client knows that they can trust your judgement. Because you took the time to put off the salesperson act and be an approachable human with their best interests in mind.
#5. Be proactive, not reactive
Would you rather look ahead to avoid hitting a pothole in the road? Or try to bandage up the damage from mistaking that pothole for a sinkhole?
Share business goals with existing clients
It’s easy to sell your client the whole smooth-sailing act when things are running amuck. But you’ll find that if you proactively work against any obstacles early on, you’ll avoid those kinds of interactions altogether.
Additionally, clients will feel like they’re in good hands. The last thing they want to be worrying about is whether the company they’re working with is capable of handling hardship.
So show them that you’re not afraid of a challenge. And that, in fact, you’ve looked ahead at the challenge and have taken the necessary steps to avoid it altogether!
Be a reliable resource to loyal clients
Once clients know that you’re proactive when it comes to difficulty, they’ll start to view you as a resource that’s trustworthy and reliable. Those two qualities are often undermined anyway in the grand schemes of things.
After all, everybody wants to be the fun friend, not the reliable friend. But when it comes to business, it pays to be reliable.
No, literally. People will pay you to be reliable! No joke.
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Building long term relationships with clients will…
Well, it’ll give you lots of things. But here are some of the main things we had in the mind.
Take time and mutual respect
If you’ve set your sights on making strong client relationships, don’t expect those kinds of things to happen overnight. A strong relationship takes time to build.
And it’s built through trust and consistent effort. So get ready to make this an ongoing goal and journey. Not just an overnight fix. (Although that’d be way easier!)
Require setting realistic expectations
When we say strong client relationships, we’re not saying that you’re going to be all buddy-buddy with folks. Maybe you find a client that becomes a friend you play golf with occasionally.
But just be sure to set your sights at a professional level. Just as these things take time to cultivate, these things also require boundary-setting.
Involve honest opinions
This will most likely come in the form of customer feedback which really is nothing to shy away from. Sometimes, that feedback may feel harsh.
(At least not when delivered by a virtual event host. Trust us, if you incorporate humor into a client feedback session, it’ll do wonders for easing the tension in the room!)
But trust us when we say that it’s not personal. In fact, this kind of feedback is the very fuel you’ll need to improve your company and meet customer needs down the line.
So think of these opinions and feedback as an opportunity to grow from. Not a burden to carry and sulk about with.
Arm you with helpful tips
Besides, those opinions may even provide you some tips for future clients! What’s better than getting feedback from one client, then being able to improve your relationships with other future clients?
That sounds like a sustainable workforce to us. And a great way to pay it forward and get your company to look at every client as an opportunity, not just a one-off project.
Give you purpose beyond just a paycheck
When we get caught in the grind, it’s easy to check a job as simply a paycheck. But strong client relationships will help you redefine that mindset.
And maybe even give you a reason to get out of bed in the morning. You never know what will come from these client relationships.
So give into the purpose they provide. And start to enjoy the interactions you get to have with people you might not have come across otherwise.
Client. It sounds like such a clinical word. But it can blossom into a beautiful relationship if only given care and time.
So work on building your client relationships today. And maybe even see a brighter future ahead!
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Adam Christing is a professional comedy magician, virtual MC, and the founder of CleanComedians.com. He is a member of the world-famous Magic Castle in Hollywood and a popular corporate entertainer, magician, and virtual speaker.