The success of any business depends on the quality of its relationships. You want your clients to keep coming back, and, better yet, spread the good word about you. But if that is to happen, you need client relationship skills.
Make your customers develop a relationship with your business by honing your client relations skills with the tips we’re about to offer you. Your business will be grateful for it, and so will your clients.
What are client relationships?
Client relationships are built on the interactions between our business and our customers. It’s important to remember that this is a two-way relationship — how we treat our clients and how they treat us are both important factors.
We must take care of our clients because they’re the source of our income and we’re in this business to help them succeed. That’s why we build strong bonds and show them that we’re eager to continue the relationship.
As business owners, we want our clients to see us as empathetic, knowledgeable, and capable. We want them to feel comfortable interacting with our business and employees. And when clients enjoy our products and services and get value from their interactions with our staff members, they’re more likely to stick around.
Here are a few tips to improve client-business communications:
- Hire the right people: Make sure that your customer-facing staff — if you have any — possess the soft skills to handle complaints under pressure and reassure customers that their worries are being taken seriously.
- Respect your client's time: Be punctual, thorough, and courteous when communicating with clients. It’ll show that you value their time and want to help them as efficiently and effectively as possible.
- Establish a strong social media presence: A great online presence does wonders for finding new clients and earning referrals. It’ll also make existing customer interactions easier and more enjoyable. You can share testimonials and attract potential clients with relevant context.
- Streamline processes whenever possible: Never make clients jump through hoops to get in touch with you or use your services. Call them back if they can’t reach you, and offer several lines of communication — email, phone, or social media messages. Keep things informative, relevant, and simple.
A lot goes into creating and maintaining a good client relationship, but the benefits of doing so are manifold.
What client relationships are not
Now that you know what creates lasting customer relationships, here’re a few things to be wary of. Client relationships aren’t:
- Limited to transactions: Don’t make your clients feel like a business opportunity or numbers on a spreadsheet. Personalize interactions with customers and make sure they’re happy with the services they receive. That’s how you build truly strong relationships.
- About customer service alone: While maintaining client relationships requires a similar skill set, it takes more than just offering clients support for our services to build an ongoing relationship. Interact with them personally, and ask about their well-being and mean it.
- Built on promotional emails and text messages alone: Effective and strategic communication is key when you’re seeking to know how to build client relationships that last. But think of it as a conversation starter rather than the whole conversation itself. Build on it, personalize it, and show that you care.
It may be helpful for us to think of relationships between the contractor and client as an ongoing effort that requires skilled communication on both sides.
Transactions, customer service, and promotions all factor into maintaining a great client-business relationship. But the trick here is to optimize all of these distinct parts and leverage data and feedback to make a smooth and enjoyable customer experience. Then, the client feels incentivized to continue the business relationship.
What is customer churn?
Businesses that don’t manage their relationships well get high customer churn. This rate measures the percentage of customers that stopped using your services over a period of time.
Customer churn is calculated by dividing the number of customers lost during a period (a quarter, six months, or a year) by the total number of active customers at the beginning of that period.
Churn is an indicator of subpar client-business relationships and costs businesses a lot of effort, time, and money. It’s costlier for a business to constantly acquire new customers than to maintain existing ones. In fact, increasing customer retention by 5% translates into a 25% increase in profits. That’s why businesses must keep the churn rate low.
The elements of a good relationship with clients
To build a healthy long-term relationship with clients, aim for all of the following elements:
- Information: Be knowledgeable about your own brand, but also understand customer buying habits, past purchases, interactions, and likely issues.
- Transparency: Keep clients informed about information relevant to them. You build strong client relationships when you keep them in the loop about business developments and the decision-making process that affects them.
- Symbiosis: A successful business relationship is one where both parties have something to gain from each other. Let clients derive tangible value from interactions with your business so they feel encouraged to return.
- Long-lasting: Ideally, customer relationships should be ongoing and not limited to one transaction or interaction only. Asking for and acting upon client feedback can be helpful for businesses.
5 examples of client relationship skills
- Communication: Any business — digital or a brick-and-mortar store — should be a friendly environment. Lean on communication skills to boost customer relationships and build trust. If our business has a great working relationship with customers, and they enjoy interacting with us, they’re much more likely to return.
- Listening to feedback: Whenever possible, follow up on feedback. While clients love a job done well, they often stay on when we demonstrate that we value their input and expectations. Showing that we’ve listened to their feedback and are skilled at problem-solving is an excellent way to gain their loyalty.
- Rapport and empathy: Make earning the customers’ trust a priority by keeping an open and transparent line of communication. Building trust based on empathy is an ongoing process that must continue for as long as the customer has a relationship with our business.
- Creativity: Here’s an opportunity to boost customer satisfaction metrics. Instead of a plain “Thank you” email, set yourself apart from the competition and be memorable to customers by personalizing gifts, rewards, and offers.
- Data analysis: Stay informed of all customer interactions, whether they went right or wrong, and then be proactive. Use your work tools, client relationship management (CRM) software, or social media to gather this information. This way, you’ll prove to the clients that you understand their needs and are committed to meeting them.
With a well-trained team and easy to access information, you’ll earn more business opportunities from existing clients, elevate your reputation, and attract referrals and new customers.
Are you looking for ways to build great business relationships? Try Practice’s all-in-one client management system today.