Client relationships are critical to the success of your career and any business. Solid client relationships help you reduce customer attrition, increase sales, and deliver marketing.
You have to view these relationships through a long-term lens rather than one that’s short-term.
When you think long-term, you value the building of strong relationships, and you put a lot of your focus on customer loyalty.
So how can you build and strengthen value-creating relationships?
1. Client Recognition and Celebration
Sometimes there are little things you can do to show your clients you appreciate them. For example, maybe you give clients a small gift when it’s their anniversary of working with the company or for their birthday.
These little gifts to show appreciation can be especially valuable right now when you might not be seeing clients face-to-face as much as you once did.
Client gifts don’t have to be expensive to be meaningful.
2. Get to Know How They “Tick.”
It’s important to learn the ins and outs of how your clients think and work. That’s going to allow you to be strategic in how you approach every relationship. When you know how your clients work, then you’re going to be able to know how to present your ideas and yourself and work in an effective, efficient way.
Start getting to know clients as soon as you first make contact.
Do a deep dive into the company, the team, individual client contacts, and any past projects that might exist.
Then you’re going to go into your initial conversation feeling more confident, poised to position yourself in the best possible light.
You can also figure out how to speak the “language” of your client.
As you’re getting to know your client, realize everyone is going to have their own preferences and goals, and you need to learn these on a personal level to deliver the best outcomes and have the best relationship.
3. Be Accountable
Set expectations for yourself and your client, and make sure you’re always accountable on your end.
Do what you say when you say you’re going to do it. If you have the opportunity to not just meet but exceed expectations, go all in.
Of course, you need to be realistic when you’re setting expectations to make sure that you are actually able to deliver.
As far as setting expectations for your clients, let them know the deadlines they need to meet in order for you to do the best you can at your job. Feel free to outline your communication expectations and also boundaries that you might have.
The clearer you can be at the start of a relationship with a client, the less opportunity for frustration to arise along the way.
You should expect to be held accountable for what you’ll say you’ll do, and you should feel confident advocating for yourself if your client isn’t following through too.
You want to build relationships that are honest, constructive, and respectful.
4. Promote Open Communication
The best relationships of any kind, including with clients, are those where open communication is a top priority. Your clients need to feel like they can come to you with questions or concerns and that you’re responsive and easy to get in touch with. That doesn’t, however, mean that you’re on-call for them whenever which goes back to the concept of setting boundaries.
You can ask your clients how they feel best about communicating with you. For example, maybe they prefer a daily or weekly update, or sometimes your client might feel most comfortable meeting with you in person on a regular basis.
5. Integrate Feedback
We all need feedback in every part of our lives, and this includes our personal and professional relationships. With your clients, you want to ask for feedback, but you also want to make sure you’re integrating it into how you work.
Take time to listen to feedback, ask questions when you need to, and make sure you’re on the same page.
Then, once you incorporate the feedback, confirm to ensure that this is what your client meant. This shows you’re listening, you’re willing to do what it takes to make them happy with your work, and it’s going to help lay the groundwork for a successful long-term partnership.
6. Be the Expert
Don’t be timid or get sucked into the trap of imposter syndrome. You are the expert, and that’s why your client’s come to you in the first place, so don’t be afraid to fully embrace this role. That means that you know your skills and what you bring to the table, and you aren’t shy about offering them up.
You can share your knowledge when appropriate and apply your skillset and experience to a wide range of problem-solving scenarios. This means you’re likely going above and beyond, and this is going to not only help your client feel confident with you, but you might find new opportunities in doing so.
7. Remember Your Client is a Person
A client relationship, in some ways, is like building a relationship in any other part of your life. Relationships, no matter the setting or specifics, are built on understanding and mutual respect.
If your client’s going through something personal, reach out and check-in. If you’re finishing up a project, get in touch and see if there’s anything else they need before you invoice them.
You do have to balance this with not being overly personal, of course, but that doesn’t mean you can’t be courteous and warm.
8. Find Ways to Make Life Easier
Finally, everyone appreciates when there are things that can make their lives easier. People like convenience, and if you want your client to value your relationship, then identify even simple ways that you can make their lives easier.
Maybe you suggest a new collaboration tool that you think will make communication easier, just as one example.
There’s a lot of value you can create simply by offering convenience.