Having an influx of clients is the basis of any stable business, and one of the most aspects of our work is sustaining and improving our relationships with our clients. Enhancing these relationships makes the project more effective, satisfying and enjoyable. Better relationships also improve the possibility that we will get future business and referrals.
The following are ten things you can do to enhance these client relationships and some ideas on how to get started.
1. Develop a well-defined contract with your client.
To have a successful client engagement, this is the number one guideline. Neither You nor your client can be clear on deadlines and deliverables, roles and responsibilities, methodologies and measures without an explicit contract. Also, a clear contract also is a great support to a good working relationship. The objective of a contract is precision, not legalese, so it reduces conflicts.
Idea: Your jointly agreed contract should include the following at the least:
- What the responsibilities and roles are for you – and members of the client group
- What techniques you plan to use throughout the project
- The project timeline
- The clear description of success
2. Get to know your client better.
Whenindividuals in a relationship take the time to get to know one another all relationships are better. Study the client’s interests. You will possibly spend many hours with and around the client during the project. Knowing their little interest is important to some clients than others, but we all like to have conversations with others about our interests.
Idea: learn something new about each client in every consultation you have. Keep track of that information in your project notes, contact manager, or wherever you can find it when needed.
3. Ask more questions.
It is necessary to ask questions so that you can understand situations better. Make the time to ask your client what she thinks, how she feels and try to comprehend her observations regarding the advancement of the project and your performance.
Idea: One of the most important ways we can develop to improve our client relationships and consulting skills is through the power of questioning.
4. Say ‘’No “when necessary
Sometimes we get asked by customers to do things beyond our interests or capabilities. When these new requests are beyond the contract agreement, be ready to say no. Try to understand both the client’s reason for asking as well as your capacity to deliver. Just because “the Customer is always right.” Doesn’t mean you should automatically say yes.
Idea: Saying “No” may mean being on track by not enlarging the scope of the project. It could also mean not taking additional work that the client would like you to do. In whichever case, it is easier to say no when you are focused on your objectives.
Take the time to ask yourself “What is my focus as regarding my business both now and in the future – and how does this demand fit into my plans?” More realistically, I have often asked myself if I would be interested in or excited by this new work. This is a critical question to muse which helps me decide before I answer.
5. Be prepared to say “yes.”
Only you will know when saying “yes “is the right answer. After evaluating the opportunity given to you by a client, the client will be glad if you say yes! It often makes the client’s job much easier. This reply can also help strengthen your relationship with the client as well. The more projects you do for the client, the more valued you become. You know the ropes, the people, culture, and systems. These are valid reasons for saying yes.
Idea: Undertaking assignments that expand your skills and comfort zones are enough motivation to say yes. Always ask yourself, “Would I be thrilled to do this project?” If so, you know what your answer should be.
6. Solve problems and find solutions
We get hired by clients to help them solve problems. The more difficulties we can help them solve, the better. Sometimes our job allows us to see things that can be useful to the client. Assess these opportunities and when suitable, help (or offer to help) the client solve the problem.
Idea: Be observant, and understand the big picture of the client’s business goals. Clients will be delighted if you can pinpoint areas for improvement – particularly when you have suggestions on how to improve them.
7. Maintain your distance.
We do become more important the more we work in an organization, but we need to keep our role well outlined within the organization. Even as we develop the relationships that make us successful, we need to be meticulous in keeping our distance so we can continue providing effectual and valuable expertise and advice.
Idea: Always check your contract to help you stay within role specified. While this “distance” should not be misconstrued as a lack of interest in their organization. Your efforts will be seen for what they are when you let the client understand your reasons for maintaining this distance.
8. Be focused.
If you want to maintain and build your client relationship, the best adviceis to stay focused on your contract and output.
Idea: discuss deadlines and deliverables in client meetings. By Showing that concentration and then delivering quality output as promised, we enhance our relationships and build our credibility.
Be open to new ideas and techniques approaching each project with fresh eyes. You can quickly turn off the client when you immediately snap to a solution, presuming that their situation is “just like” ten others you have seen. There are always little distinctions that will make a difference. Take the time to ask about them, and incorporate them into your solution.
Idea: Always act like a beginner. If we attempt a situation as “Been there, done that,” our prospects of exceeding the client’s anticipations is greatly reduced. More importantly, our approach will show through, thereby harming our client relationships.
10. Work on your relationship
Understand that the client relationship is also a part of the job! Working on the relationship will make you more successful in the existing project, heighten your chance for work in the future while enjoying the project. You’ll also get to know and learn from your client. If you ask me, I’d say a worthwhile investment in total.
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Also read: How to create a personal brand