by Lewis Robinson
When developing effective customer and client relationships, it’s important to recognize that these relationships are complex and require far more intuitiveness than a simple “business savvy” or “likable personality.” In order to develop and maintain effective relationships you must recognize the importance of clear communication, trust, and a balanced equilibrium of closeness and professionalism.
In this article we will identify the importance of each of these areas, as well as ways to nurture these aspects of your customer or client relationship:
When looking to develop meaningful and beneficial client relationships, it’s incredibly important that you practice clear and effective communication.
While this means that you should absolutely articulate yourself in the most direct way possible through email, phone calls and in-person conversations, it even more importantly means you should become an excellent listener. Being able to hear, retain, and act upon the information your clients provide you is paramount to developing a relationship of mutual benefits.
According to a Sage 2014 survey, 86% of customers will pay more for a product for a better customer service experience. Once a client feels confident that you recognize and understand their goals, obstacles, concerns and previous issues, you will be far more capable of identifying and providing the solution they are seeking. Additionally, once you show this ability you will also be able to establish the next characteristic of an effective client relationship, trust.
According to a 2013 Bazaar survey, 7 out of every 10 customers question the authenticity of reviews on a company’s website. In today’s highly-technical society, consumers have become far more skeptical about how companies present themselves and their products. By taking the time to be an effective listener and clearly communicating back and forth with your client, you will be able to glean important information and, often times, that information isn’t always business-specific.
By getting to know the personal aspects that your client shares (i.e. if they have children, if the business is family-owned, etc.) you can show that you not only are capable of assisting them in their needs as a client, but that you also see the bigger picture from their perspective. By developing and maintaining that level of trust, not only will your clients feel more comfortable working with you, they will also have an increased likelihood of utilizing a service of yours that they may not have definitive evidence will succeed for their purposes. Developing a trusting relationship with your clients and customers can also lead to client and customer retention long term.
Balancing the Personal and Professional.
In business, especially within sales, it can often be assumed that the more “friendly” you act, the more likely you are to coax a client or customer into a sale or utilizing your business services; however, for the purpose of long term professional partnerships it is important to be able to properly balance personal likability/trust with a professional partnership that is of benefit to both parties. Creating a rolodex of chums does not necessarily infer future business partners. In fact, many of the most effective partnerships rely on your ability to say no to a client sometimes or to be able to steer a customer in a direction they may not initially want. By maintaining a professional relationship you provide the ability to do so without sacrificing a relationship that has only been established through “buddying” behavior.
Client and customer relationships that are built on trust, clear communication, and an understanding of the balance between personal and professional are far more likely to produce beneficial results that are not just one-sided. Additionally, the long term opportunities are far greater if you’ve established successes early that are upfront, honest, and show clear success for both parties. Keeping these factors in mind as you establish new professional relationships (and continue to maintain and improve pre-established relationships) will help develop long term partnerships with positive results.
Lewis Robinson is a business consultant specializing in social media marketing, CRM, and sales. He’s begun multiple corporations and currently freelances as a writer and business consultant.