CRM is a term we see everywhere, describing tools to techniques that improve a client’s journey. It stands for client or customer relationship management.
The most basic client relationship management definition encompasses what a company does to guide the interactions it has with its customers. As this is a series of complex, important interactions, companies with good client relationship management skills provide a high level of customer service, retain clients, and build strong bonds.
As coaches, it’s our job to form strong bonds, so we must be among the companies with the best client relationship management practices around. For us, client relationship management is more than just a set of tools and techniques for managing the administrative aspects of our customer interactions. Our client relationship management skills have to be so good that we present as approachable, trustworthy, and worthy of a coachee’s faith.
Read on for our client relationship management tips to see how your coaching business stacks up and ways you could improve.
Why is client relationship management so important?
Client relationship management helps establish a brand’s or company’s reputation. Companies that have their client relationship management down to science understand their clients so well they can practically read their minds. These companies can anticipate their clients’ needs before they know them, creating many moments of customer delight.
Client relationship management includes how a company communicates with clients, so it’s a powerful set of listening and speaking skills. These processes give a company a unique voice and an attentive ear to problem-solve and make clients feel heard and understood.
8 best practices for client relationship management
As coaches, great communication is central to our game. A few of the following best practices will likely come naturally to you. And as coaches, we’re strong problem solvers. If your business needs to work on one of these points, we know you’ll find a solution.
1. Be a proactive communicator
We trust that you know your business inside and out. We bet you could easily write down the FAQs that your coachees normally have. Get ahead of these common questions by keeping the answers in one central place (like your website) or answering them proactively in a consultation with a client. The same logic carries over to your sessions with coachees as well. Be proactive when discussing their progress and how they’ll reach their goals.
2. Understand your clients’ needs
As you establish a relationship with your clients, understand their needs from the start. Coaching includes listening attentively to clients’ goals and identifying the kind of roadblocks we feel they may encounter in their journey. As these needs change over time, we must react and rechart as needed. And if we aren’t sure what they need, we need to have honest conversations that ensure we’re on the same page.
3. Don’t limit yourself to a single channel of communication
Clients have different communication preferences. Some prefer in-person meetings, while others adapt better to virtual or phone calls. These preferences matter because they help establish a comfortable working environment. We need to ask our clients how they prefer to be contacted and host their sessions before we start working together.
4. Always be transparent, even if it doesn’t make you look good
As a coach, honesty is always the best policy. In some coaching relationships, work may not go as planned, or you might have to deliver difficult feedback to a client. If you’re honest, your coachee has a better chance of success. Honesty extends to business processes: Be upfront about costs, timing, and expectations.
5. Set clear expectations and don’t overpromise
Our motto as coaches should be: “Don’t overpromise, overdeliver.” When we set clear expectations with our clients, we start on the right foot and gain the opportunity to truly impress them when our coaching exceeds expectations. Customer relationship experts should focus on honesty instead of selling a dream that’s out of reach.
6. Respect your client’s time
No one likes to feel like their time is being wasted. And, in a coaching relationship, time is valuable (not to mention billable). We need to ensure our clients get the most out of a session by using clear communication to keep the conversation moving, avoiding spending time on unnecessary admin you can save for another time, and starting and ending on time.
7. Find the balance between being friendly and being professional
Perhaps the toughest of all the balances we need to strike as coaches is that of being professional and friendly at the same time. We must act with empathy, communicate kindly yet firmly, and show our clients they’re in a safe space through our physical gestures like facial expressions and postures. The key to striking this delicate balance is acting with respect and intention.
8. Automate processes as much as you can, but with a human touch
For certain processes, you can rely on automation. While coaches must be fully present during a session, the same doesn’t necessarily apply to administrative processes. Use a client relationship management system like Practice’s to handle scheduling, payments, forms, and email communications. Repetitive tasks like this can be done asynchronously. A client relationship management tool allows clients to comfortably handle all these logistical tasks in one central place, creating a more user-friendly, pleasant customer experience.
9. Use any data that you have
Alongside efforts to automate processes, you should collect relevant data about your sessions. A client relationship management software allows you to store client data and track client behavior, meaning you can also leverage this tool to send out nuanced marketing materials using segmentation. Some goals are intangible and harder to quantify, but seeing trends in your clients’ progress or purchasing decisions will help optimize your practice. Tracking client testimonials is a great way to note intangible progress. Is there a certain number of sessions where clients usually start to see progress? Will clients reach more goals if they do X or Y? Do they feel like they’re improving? (We’d count that as a success.)
Improving your client relationship management skills will elevate your business and benefit your clients’ success. We know how important it is to create strong bonds with your clients and focus on their progress during sessions. We’re here to help you pay attention to what matters, so leave the logistics to us. Try Practice’s client relationship management system today.