Regardless of what industry you work in, it’s no surprise that a strong relationship with your clients is crucial to your success and their success.
And while managing the client relationship can sometimes be overwhelming, frustrating, and time-consuming, exercising these four things can make the relationship a whole lot more enjoyable for everyone.
Here are four tips all client-facing individuals should know.
1. Set Realistic Expectations, And Then Exceed Them
When you enter into a relationship with a client, it's imperative to set realistic expectations. Lacking to do so can lead to a quick demise for both parties.
Setting the right expectations directly links back to gaining your client's trust and begins in the sales process. When you are trying to secure a new client you need to be clear about the purpose of the relationship and what the client can expect from your company.
What services can they expect to receive from you? How many points of contact should they expect to have? How often should they expect to hear from you? Setting clear expectations eliminates room for confusion and disappointment.
Clients are very big on deadlines. I can’t even count how many times I’ve heard the phrase, “How quickly can you get this back to me?”
Working in client services, it’s in your nature to be agreeable, but if you say “yes” to something that is unrealistic, it will come back to bite you and hurt the relationship. Always under commit and over deliver.
If you’re a client reading this, you might not like what you’re hearing, but from our perspective, I promise this is for your best interest. As an account manager, it is your job to always think one step ahead.
When committing to a deadline, it’s imperative to factor time in for issues to arise and then hope that they don’t. If you promise your client a deadline, that date is getting passed up the chain to their boss and their boss's boss, etc.
So, if something happens on your end that puts you behind deadline, even if it’s completely out of your control (like a technological glitch), your client now has to pass that news along to their higher-ups. You’ve put them in a bad spot and in the process damaged the trust they had in you.
2. Use Clear and Positive Communication
No matter what is going on in your personal life or if you’re extremely stressed at work, always approach your client communications in an upbeat and positive way.
This sets up each conversation you have with your client to be a more successful one. You want to be an enjoyable part of your clients day and show that you like working with them and care about their company as a whole and them as an individual.
While you may communicate a bit differently with each of your clients based on their needs, there are some tips you can follow to constantly improve your communication skills.
Using clear communication allows you to be respectful of your clients time. If a non-urgent problem arises on your end, do not go straight to the client with it. They’re paying you for your knowledge and expertise so do not involve them and waste their time until the problem has been fixed.
If the problem cannot be fixed quickly and you feel you must tell your client what’s happened, make sure your email explaining the issue also highlights how your team plans to fix the problem.
The exception to involving a client immediately is if an emergency arises and the client must be briefed right away. At that point, let the client know what has happened, that you’re working to fix the issue, and that you will provide more details and updates as you receive them.
When sending anything to the client for approval, make sure to specify what the next steps are once that item is given the green light. This helps everyone involved in the project understand the importance of this step in relation to the whole initiative and who is next to contribute to this project.
If you are sticking to a timeline, also specify when the next step of the project will happen to help keep everyone accountable and on track for the completion date.