Look, it’s no secret that great client relationships are the backbone of your agency’s business.
But I’m sure you’ll agree that it’s not so easy figuring out how to actually develop those relationships.
And so that’s what I’m going to show you in this post:
Five ways you can strengthen client relationships to help your business thrive.
Ready? Then let’s get started.
#1. Follow Through on Your Commitments
I’m sure you’ve been here before:
You hire someone to take care of an important task for you – either at work or home – and they just can’t get the job done in time.
And then you’re left to do the task for yourself (or quickly find a replacement) and a bad taste in your mouth about the person you hired.
Sucks, doesn’t it?
Well that’s exactly how your clients feel too when you struggle to meet deadlines.
And so, that’s precisely why following through on your commitments should be a top priority for your agency:
It’s the foundation of a healthy business relationship.
Now, of course this applies to bigger deliverables like projects, but make no mistake – it also translates to smaller commitments, too.
“If you commit to doing something, to taking some action, and then you don’t follow up or follow through, your dream client will come to believe that they should also expect that you will not keep your future commitments—commitments that become much more critical once they are your client. Failing to keep your commitments, large or small, will cause your dream client to question whether or not you can be trusted. And without trust, your opportunity is lost.”
So let’s say during some friendly banter at the start of a call with the client you mention this great article you read on, oh…I don’t know, how to avoid project communication breakdowns.
Then, make sure you actually include that article in your follow-up email.
I’ll admit, it seems like a small thing and you might think it’d be a meaningless oversight if you forgot.
But the truth is, that small missed action can have a significant impact on their perception of you and your agency.
Actually, while we’re on the topic of follow-up emails, here’s the next important pillar of good client relationships:
#2. Be an Excellent Communicator
It’s a common misunderstanding:
Being an excellent communicator doesn’t mean you need to respond to every email you receive within five minutes.
But it does mean you need to make it easy for clients to get in touch with you when they have a pressing need.
And the best way to do that is to give them multiple channels for contacting you. Take a look at how ChatterBuzz Media does it on their site:
Notice how there’s three different ways for clients to get in touch quickly just on their website. That doesn’t even include any personal contact info a client may have to a direct project manager or partner at the agency.
Now, does that mean they will answer the phone if you ring at 11:30pm?
But provided you set the right expectations with the client at the start of the relationship (something like, “we’re available anytime before 6PM, otherwise we will return any messages the next day before noon”), that shouldn’t be a problem.
In fact, it acts as another trust-building example of you following through on a commitment.
But what about establishing excellent client relationships by exceeding expectations?
That’s what these next two tips cover:
#3. Invest in the Client’s Success by Setting Up Google News Alerts for Their Company
Want to go above and beyond what your client expects from your partnership?
Here’s a simple, high-impact way to do just that:
Set Google Alerts based on your client’s name and their company.
That way, you’ll receive an email anytime there’s relevant news about your client published online.
Which gives you an easy reason to reach out, say hello, and show that you’re staying informed about their business.
(Note: You can also do the same thing in Google News, but I prefer the alerts because you’ll actually receive an email rather than having to manually check it each day.)
#4. Pay Attention to Little Details (like Birthdays, Work Anniversaries, and Family Details)
You know this:
Everyone has a life outside of work.
And while even the best client relationships are usually strictly professional, it’s a good idea to get a sense for the personal life of your contact at a client – including hobbies, birthdays, and family member names.
Because these simple tidbits from someone’s life can act as an easy way to build camaraderie and ease into business conversations.
Luckily, you can get a lot of the information you need without having to pry thanks to social media.
You can easily track birthdays and work anniversaries on LinkedIn:
And learning about a client’s hobbies can be as simple as a quick search on Facebook.
The point is, noticing small details of someone’s personal life can go a long way in building a solid relationship with your client.
But nothing truly compares to this last tip…
#5. Create Quality Work
Fact: if you’re not creating quality work, none of the rest matters.
The true best way to create great client relationships is to deliver best-in-class work at a reasonable price.
That’s because if you actually help your clients solve a problem for the business in an efficient, cost-effective way, you’re setting yourself up for a solid relationship built on trust and mutual respect.
And the best way to ensure your work is up to the client’s standards is simply to just ask.
(This post over on Kayako gives some great tips on how to do just that.)
Simply put, if you want to build strong client relationships, all it takes is delivering on the promises you made at the start of a project.
And One Last Thing….
You know building relationships isn’t easy, but these five strategies are a sure-fire way to strengthen your partnerships with clients.
What else can I do for you today?
“If asked after you’ve covered everything, this communicates that you’re willing to go the extra mile; beyond what is normally expected. In a world where doing the bare minimum is often the expectation, this is perhaps the most important thing. It is what sets you apart from their prior agency or account manager. It shows that you care and want to do the work that will get better than expected results.”
And that’s how you go from a good client relationship to a great one: by extending yourself above and beyond the normal expectations for a partnership.
How about you?
What else are you doing to strengthen client relationships?