7 Resources to Make You Better at Building Client Relationships
A 5 percent increase in client retention produces at least a 25 percent increase in profit.
It seems like a straight-forward concept. But do you know how to retain clients to see this type of profitability? It's more than just performance and birthdays (although that's important, too).
It's about the quality of your relationships. No pressure though.
Building Client Relationships: Essential Resources
Here are seven things you should focus on when building client relationships (and seven resources to help you do it).
1. Be Self-Aware: The Mindfulness App
The first factor to consider is your relationship with yourself.
Think of the classic safety speech at the beginning of every flight. "In the event of cabin depressurization, please put on your own face mask before assisting others."
The same thing goes in professional relationships. You need to help yourself before you can help others.
Now I don't mean to sound woo-woo or suggest that you must be perfect to have relationships. That's both unrealistic and boring.
Rather, you should be aware that how you feel affects your communication with others. You don't want your personal life or stress to harm client relationships.
You can create this awareness through reflection.
The Mindfulness App is a free smartphone application geared towards that. It has guided meditations ranging from 3 to 30 minutes long that will help you relax and focus.
And let's be honest — if you're not relaxed, or at least calm, it will be problematic. If your mind is going a million miles an hour, you can't do the most important part of communication: listen.
2. Actively Listen: Mindtools.com
We learn the importance of being able to communicate throughout our education. We've written assignments and we've stood sweaty-palmed at the front of a speech class.
We've focused on sharing information, but we're rarely taught the importance of listening. Not hearing, but listening.
Most people speak at a rate of around 125 words per minute. Yet our brain can process almost twice that.
In other words, if we aren't actively listening then our minds are wandering. They can receive much more information than what's available, so it takes an effort to focus.
How do you learn to actively listen? The same way you learn how to do anything: education and practice.
Mindtools has information and tips to improve listening skills. Communication research is essential to your professional practices. You can't have a strong client relationship without having strong communication skills.
Plus, if you have strong communication skills, you may be able to add extra value to the relationship.
3. Building Client Relationships by Building Value
Think of a toy in a Happy Meal — it's not what they came for, but man does it make kids happy.
Podcasts and vlogs could be the same add-on for your clients.
If you don't already create this type of content, you're missing an opportunity. More than 50 percent of Americans listen to podcasts.
This includes your current and future (potential) clients.
Good news — you can rent a space from us to make vlogs and podcasts. This provides a professional backdrop to set the stage of your production. We can also refer you to a professional video production team, Braly Image Group. Their firm has won not just one, but two ADDY Awards March 2019.
Then you can embed them on your website, or include them in automated marketing messages (or both). Let us help you #CHAnge, like Cindrapreneur.
4. Automate Communication: Canva.com
Why work harder when you can work smarter? Automate what you can, such as regular newsletters.
Keep your name and business at the front of clients' minds by being in the front of their inbox.
Newsletters allow you to share current services and resources (such as your podcasts, videos, and blog posts).
The website Canva has thousands of free templates to create newsletters.
Automated communication helps create consistency and adds value to your client relationships. However, you should always pair it with personal communication. Remember your communications should be about your client’s interests. It will be even more powerful if you can highlight your clients and their achievements.
5. Make it Personal: Google Calendar
I hope this is an obvious reminder to you, but the clients you communicate with are people. They have special interests, birthdays, and all the other things we humans tend to have.
Treating your clients as if they are dollar signs is the worst thing you can do for retention.
Instead, you should take a personal interest in your clients as people. Ask clients about birthdays, important events, and any question you would ask a friend (respectfully and professionally, of course).
Remember events that are important to them by putting it in a Google Calendar. Then, schedule a thoughtful reminder. You might want to save yourself time card shopping and trips to the post office and subscribe to a card service like SendOutCards.com. They make remembering the important moments simple with beautiful cards and gifts just a click away. It’s simple to send a sympathy card or congratulations gift for an accomplishment on the fly.
Gestures like this show your clients you value them personally and professionally. This is how you build trust and comfortability with clients. Then, you can get more honest feedback.
6. Ask for Feedback: SurveyMonkey
Feedback is essential to building client relationships, as professional relationships are ultimately based upon performance.
Clients aren't going to want a business relationship with you if you aren't performing or meeting expectations — common sense, right?
It must also be common sense to schedule, routine feedback from your clients. Recurring conversations tell you what you're doing right and what could use improvement.
Send automatic emails to complete a feedback survey for services or products you provide. You can create one for free on SurveyMonkey.
Additionally, schedule periodic evaluation meetings with your clients. This allows you to acknowledge their input in real time and find solutions to problems, if there are any. Or better yet, let clients schedule the meetings.
7. Scheduling Made Easy: Picktime
What better way to show clients you value their input by allowing them to choose when they would like to meet?
A website called Picktime gives client this control.
It's a free online appointment scheduler that shows what time and days you are available to meet. There are text and email reminders, as well as recurring appointment options.
Recurring meetings are key, as the saying goes, "the customer knows best."
Your Client is The Best Resource
All of this will help you with building client relationships. Ultimately, it takes connecting with your clients to find out if your services and products are meeting their needs.
Ask them what would improve the relationship. They are the ones who know what they want and need, not you.
The best way to find the answers to your service questions are to have face-to-face meetings. Book a meeting room for the occasion, and don't forget to show up "all ears."