Ever notice that most business courses introduce you to client "development", but never get around to showing you how to maintain those relationships once you've secured them?
For any service-based business, "servicing" your clients means lots of collaborative effort. The success of every project depends heavily on your ability to access and adjust to your clients' preferences, customer base and business objectives. You can implement some measures to help evaluate their specific needs and virtually guarantee repeat business.
Start by exploring answers to questions like:
Are they "big picture" or detail oriented?
If you give too much detail to someone who likes bullet points, you'll leave something to be desired on both sides. "Big picture" oriented clients pay you to manage all the behind the scenes work so they don't have to. More hands-on individuals want to be involved with the hows and whys - usually until they are more comfortable letting go of the reigns. Be sure to recognize and adjust to preferences before conflicting styles become a turn off.
How do they communicate approval or disappointment?
Is your client non-confrontational? If so, it may take some time to recognize the subtle hints they use to convey disappointment with (or even approval of) your performance. This feedback is directly related to your ability to address issues or reinforce positives as they occur. Knowing their communication vehicles will help you identify expectations early and craft questions that effectively solicit feedback as your relationship progresses.
Who are their target customers?
Armed with a concise answer to this crucial question, you can help your clients work smarter, not harder. You also learn to adjust your work accordingly. Whether your clients' major accounts are blue collar or white collar, consumers or businesses, you'll want to offer suggestions to enhance services and processes specifically for their most valued customers.
What are your clients' primary goals and how do they plan to achieve them?
You can only help someone get somewhere if you're sharing the same road map. Find out what role you play and where their expectations lie. Use this assessment to take a proactive approach to helping your clients surpass their goals. With it, you can tailor suggestions to meet their specific objectives and in turn, become invaluable to them.
Finding answers for these and similar questions will help you learn to strategically manage your client relationships. You will get to know what they need and how they need it - before they do. Armed with this information, you can offer suggestions and resources that enhance their business. Your clients will quickly recognize that you are working as a value-added partner rather than a vendor. They will develop more trust and as a result send more work your way, which adds $$ to your bottom line.Author: Nikita Allen Published: 2014-07-17