When you run a business, your customer base is your lifeblood. Your ability to run premises, pay staff, expand, market – it’s all thanks to them. As such, for businesses, retaining clients and keeping them happy should be of paramount importance. But when workloads increase, stresses flare and more urgent matters clutter your mind, maintaining that exceptional level of customer service can slip by the wayside. This doesn’t make you a bad person, or your business a bad business, it’s just life! But if things are getting a little more fast-paced, it’s important to remember the simple and crucial things you can do to retain your clients and keep them happy. Emphasise this throughout your business and it won’t matter if the going gets tough, your customers will always be taken care of.
Maintain a regular schedule of client phone calls
No matter what product you sell or service you offer, you need to keep lines of communication open and active between your business and your clients. There’s nothing worse than signing a contract and beginning a business relationship and then one party disappears off the face of the earth and is a nightmare to get in touch with. For a business relationship to work both parties must be open, transparent and honest. Maintaining a schedule of phone calls with your clients will help to build trust which will hopefully lead to a long-term, mutually beneficial relationship. Locking in time for a short call to take place every week will enable you to stick to that schedule if things get busy, and will ensure everyone is on the same page at all times.
Reply to emails and other digital communications promptly
Another example of maintaining excellent communications with your clients is ensuring emails, messages through social media and other digital communications are answered promptly. While it’s difficult to miss a phone call, an email can slip by the eye easily, so perhaps set up special alerts or inboxes to make it easier to respond quickly to all enquiries. This goes for potential clients too – if someone has enquired about your product or service, don’t keep them waiting as they may find a competitor who is more on the ball with their response times.
Personal touches go a long way
Getting to know your clients well is a great way to foster long term business relationships. Taking the time to learn, for example, the birthdays of key contacts within the business you are working with and sending a card, or a small gift perhaps will demonstrate not only your attention to detail but how much you value the business relationship you have created with them. People aren’t robots, and getting to know people on a more personal level will enable you to understand how best you can help them achieve their goals.
Always be realistic
When your number one priority is client satisfaction, it can be really easy to over-promise in order to keep them happy. This is short-sighted, however, as inevitably down the line when you can’t deliver what you promised the client is going to be significantly more annoyed than they would if you’d have been honest in the first place. This goes back to the importance of building client trust. You don’t lie to people when you’ve built up a great relationship, so if you’ve encountered some issues that will affect the agreed-upon timeline, explain them and agree on a new one. It sounds simple, but for some, the worry of confrontation can get the better of them. It’s always best to be upfront, remember that!
Worries and insecurities can affect everyone at any stage in life, so it wouldn’t be surprising if when working on a big project for a client, anxieties set in that make you question everything. If you’ve been given instructions or a brief by a client, make sure you understand what you’ve been given fully before making a start. Some people are guilty of going away with half the idea, which can then lead to needing further input from the client which may be difficult for them to provide if they are short on time themselves. Have a clear idea of your vision before you start work, and ensure that the client is on board, to avoid having to go back and forth when the deadline has been set, which, as well as everything else, will not do any good for your stress levels either!
Don’t get upset over bad feedback
Sometimes you can work on a project for a client and believe it’s your best work ever, only for them to advise that they’d like to take things in a totally different direction, or that it’s not quite what they wanted. It’s easy to get down on yourself or potentially argue your corner, but a key factor to maintaining positive client relationships is to understand that you are there to help them achieve their goals, and if what you have produced does not quite do that, or potentially the goal has changed, you need to be flexible and adjust in order to help them as best you can. If you can assert yourself as an asset towards achieving their business goals, the relationship will likely be a long and prosperous one for all involved.