Maintaining Client Relationships

August 20th, 2010

This is the 3rd and last article in a series that was prompted by attending an ANZ/BDO Focus Group. The previous two have looked at managing cashflow and controlling costs.

I recently asked someone to describe their ideal business and they said one that didn’t have staff or customers!     Well you may be able to avoid having staff, but for most people there is a customer somewhere in your business loop.

So assuming you do have a customer, why do they want to stay and do business with you?     Even better, not only stay but be an advocate for your business and what you do.

So here are some ideas to think about when it comes to building and maintaining client relationships:

  • Do what you say you will
  • Add value to the client they weren’t expecting
  • Communicate with your clients and tell them what you’re doing and why
  • Don’t hide – if there is an issue of any sort put it on the table and deal with it – good or bad
  • Remember your parents’ advice – treat others as you’d like to be treated
  • Have a clear time frame when dealing with client queries and complaints and make sure everyone is aware and adheres to it
  • Ask the client what they want rather than assuming – uncover their need
  • Refer business to them
  • Consider a loyalty programme
  • Keep in touch with them
  • Seek feedback on what you deliver for them
  • Don’t be scared to say sorry if you haven’t lived up to their expectations

When thinking about your clients consider:

  • Do you treat every client the same?     Should you?
  • Do you know the lifetime value of that client?
  • Do you make them feel welcome and wanted?
  • Would they be happy to refer you and if not why not?
  • Are you giving them a reason to go elsewhere?
  • Do they like you or just deal with you because they have to?
  • What will make them go elsewhere?

You can have the best systems, the best products the best ideas, but if you’re not making the client feel valued then it’s very easy for them to go to a competitor and it’s a lot more expensive to find a new client than maintain an existing relationship.   It also means if you’ve developed that good relationship over time, if there is a problem they are likely to be more forgiving.

So build strong client relationships, manage cashflow, control costs and welcome to the ‘new normal’ way of doing business!    Well really there is nothing new about any of this, it’s just that some companies became sloppy when things that weren’t so tight and took their focus away from their key business drivers.

If you’ve identified some areas that maybe you can sharpen up on, then make a commitment and implement a practical step over the next 7 days that will help maintain those vital client relationships.

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