Providing service should be a top priority whether you’re a single entrepreneur running a consulting business or the manager of a big sales team. It’s that quality of care and attention that determines the long-term success of your enterprise.
Even if you pride yourself on your client care practices, there’s always room for improvement. Here are seven effective tips for improving client management and relationships.
Have the Right Tools in Place
Client management and relationships are largely dependent on the overall quality of work being completed and how one interacts with their clients. Having the right tools in place creates the foundation on which exceptional customer care is built.
There are two overarching aspects to vetting tools for better client management: internal and external. The internal tools you use are those which keep your business moving forward. External tools are client-facing tools and can improve their overall customer experience.
Your internal tools might include a tool that allows you to send contracts on the go by sending fax from iPhone devices, your invoicing software, and internal communications software. External tools could include a client portal that empowers clients to track updates.
Identify your friction or pain points during your average project or work period and find a tool that offers a solution. The more streamlined your efforts, the better client care you’ll be able to provide.
Under Promise, Over Deliver
Don’t over promise when communicating with clients. Instead, know your limitations and allow yourself ample buffer time to get things done.
Consider it this way: if you tell your client you’ll have a deliverable to them by Wednesday night and don’t get it to them until Thursday afternoon, it looks bad on you. If you tell the client you’ll have it to them by Friday night and get it to them by Thursday afternoon, they’ll be impressed by your efficiency.
Under promising doesn’t mean selling yourself short; it means allowing for the unpredictable nature of business and life.
Ensuring clear communications and understanding between clients and your team is a must when trying to improve client management and relationships. This means getting very clear on what they can expect, what you expect, and what is or is not acceptable.
A common point of contention is availability. When running a business, you want to be available to customers as much as possible. However, it’s equally as important to set healthy boundaries. Your client deciding that they’ll work late on a Friday night doesn’t mean you should forego family time or self-care to meet their schedule.
Be clear about deadlines, working hours, response times, and communication touch points when working with a client. Incorporate these expectations into your client onboarding process.
Another aspect of managing expectations is ensuring the client knows what their role is in the process. If your progress is contingent on them providing information or accomplishing a task on their end, ensure they understand that you can’t move forward until they do.
Take a Collaborative Approach
Mindset is everything when it comes to client management and care. While the customer is hiring you to provide a product or service, you are not an employee. While you are responsible for providing the offering, you don’t have to work in a silo.
Instead, think of your business transactions as a collaborative approach. Get to know the client and bring them into the process of setting goals, identifying priorities, and offering insights. Talking things through will help everyone stay on the same page and build a deeper understanding and connection. This mindset is especially important for project-based businesses.
Try to anticipate what your clients will ask for or require. Rather than waiting for them to ask for help, offer it. Rather than waiting for the questions to come in, answer them.
Reactive customer service takes place when a client experiences an issue and contacts your company with a complaint. The problem with this traditional model is that the client is already feeling frustrated when they reach out.
By taking a proactive approach, you go above and beyond, preventing those frustrating occurrences. The client is more likely to be satisfied because they don’t get frustrated in the first place.
Understand Their Motivations and Fears
Understanding the client ties in with the idea of being collaborative and proactive. The better you understand the real reasons why your client has hired you, the better service you can provide. Understanding what concerns or experiences your client is dealing with will help you better cater your services to them.
Ask for Input
The best way to improve your client relationships is to ask for feedback. This inquiry provides an opportunity for clients to share their thoughts and feelings on what you do well and what needs work. Not only will this feedback help you shape your services for the client providing it, but it will also help you shape your framework for future clients.
Use this simple guide as a baseline for improving your client management and relationships for long-term success.