Recently we were asked to put together our thoughts on what drives great client relationships that stand the test of time. Without being an exhausting or hugely scientific process, we’ve come up with a few areas that help grow a relationship, in our experience. There’s a bit of black magic thrown in for good measure.
Define thy client
This can be challenging as the ‘client’ is not always an external source. Sometimes your clients sit within your business and you need to build a relationship with them. For this exercise, let’s focus on the clients that indeed external to the business. They are the ones that pay for your services and can become your biggest advocates. So, here are five areas that we think are worth sharing and working hard at. Drumroll please…
Clients live for this. They want to know you and what you’re doing for them. A good client won’t quibble over the small stuff if you are keeping their best interests at heart. Be in touch. Be present. Be interesting – all in a consistent manner.
2. Over-delivery comes standard
This is the new world order when it comes to client demands. We’re all connected, we’re all accessible, we’re all information-rich. But the proper execution of ‘delivery’ needs management and planning. Getting the work done doesn’t need to be about more hours or adding in complexity, it’s the right balance of keeping on top of the work and keeping your client attuned to where you’re at. The old saying ‘we’ve got the programme buttoned-down’ has perhaps never been more important.
3. Duty of care
Treat their business like it’s your business when it comes to consideration and care. Showing an interest and insight goes a long way toward securing the future of the client relationship. The more you know about them and what they do – the better. It can be a powerful tool to show genuine interest in their success.
4. Free thinking
Value add. Give them something that relates to their world. A glimpse of your interest goes a long way. And if you get ignored – keep trying and make the information better. There’s nothing wrong with trying something that may not be quite on the money – just never bill them for it!
5. A reason to shout about you
Well, this happens when you get the four points above in play amongst all the other areas that you need to be on top of. You’ll find your clients are spreading the positivity about what you do for them. That can only be good.
Have a crack at a couple of these and see where the conversation leads. In our experience, it ultimately builds more trust in what you do, your value, which by default leads to more opportunities for you to prove the value of the relationship. They sound kind of simple and as always, simple is best. But to truly make the difference you need to work them into the everyday. As Nigel Tufnel of Spinal Tap would say, ‘This one goes up to 11’. That’s where you want to be with client relationships.