When you come back from a family vacation, normally you remember all the good times you had including the moments that made you laugh, moments that made you relaxed, moments that made you feel proud, moments that made you feel blessed and moments that made you feel loved. If you have taken a road trip, you do not remember the number of times you applied the brakes or the mechanics of driving unless you met with an accident or had a near miss. Using the same metaphor, in a client relationship its not about the mechanics of delivering services to the client that is memorable but the feel good factors along the way, which the client experienced that remain memorable. It goes without saying that like the accident metaphor, if a service fails to deliver the value, it does stay in the memory with likely negative consequences.
Here are 7 tips for helping experience the good times in a client relationship while converting them into everlasting memories & forging long term relationships.
#1. Build strategy around client satisfaction: A satisfied client is the best business strategy of all so build your strategy in delivering quality services to the client and define standards in terms of people, process and tools. Client appreciates processes which are standardized, routinized, predictable. Having variances in delivering services most often than not makes it complex while standardizing always makes job a bit less complex with predictable quality.
#2. Be passionate about client service: Its important to understand how your services relate to the client and how the services solve client’s business problems. Always think about client’s business as if its your own and be passionate about it. Working out the issues with this frame of mind, we ensure complete honesty while balancing in client’s favor and not merely always on our own wins. Its not the short term wins but the long term client gains, which fosters lasting client relationships.
#3. Build the trust factor: The toughest thing about the power of trust is that its difficult to build and very easy to destroy. The essence of trust building is to emphasize the similarities between you and the client. Always keep in mind that courteous treatment will make a client a walking advertisement and will not only help you win return client business but also new hunting grounds with client referrals. Be honest with your client and realistic in the services you provide.
#4. See opportunity when client complains: Statistics suggest that when customers complain, business owners and managers ought to get excited as it represents a huge opportunity for more business, provided you handle it appropriately. We all understand that there would be times when client would complain and instead of being negative or defensive, use the opportunity to be an active listener and empathize with client. Earlier I had shared a post on similar lines Why Active Listening is Key for Successful Delivery of Agile Based Projects
#5. Be Proactive rather than reactive: It is so much easier to be nice, to be respectful, to put yourself in your customers' shoes and try to understand how you might help them before they ask for help, than it is to try to mend a broken customer relationship. “You don’t drown by falling in the water; you drown by staying there”, so instead of being reactive, walk a mile wearing client’s shoe and be proactive. Devise a robust communication and stakeholder plan to manage being proactive and have a vision for client partnership.
#6. Strive to be the best for client: Akio Toyoda famously said "Everyone says Toyota is the best company in the world, but the customer doesn't care about the world. They care if we are the best in town, or not. That's what I want to be.” Same thing applies when it does not necessarily matter to the client whether you are a top consultancy services company in the world or having more skilled resources but what matters most to the client is that you are best for them and partnering closely to achieve their strategic business goals.
#7. Understand client expectations: Do not deliver services based on what client wants but deliver services based on what client needs. Its known fact that no customer ever asked for the electric light, the pneumatic tire or the iPhone. To understand client needs, its important to connect with them personally at all levels. Foster relationships through face to face meetings, small talks and regular check-ins to always map delivering services aligned with the needs of the client.
“Quality is never an accident; it is always the result of high intention, sincere effort, intelligent direction and skillful execution; it represents the wise choice of many alternatives"