Close connections with your clients help you boost loyalty and revenue. Find out how in our guide to building strong client relationships
Jessica Collier is VP of Growth Marketing at Assembly Software, developers of practice management software and cloud-based solutions for the legal sector.
Successful client relationships are built on trust, transparency, and personal connections. It’s not always easy to keep them on track, especially if you have multiple clients to look after. But when you get it right, you’ll reap the benefits of increased customer loyalty and revenue.
In this post, we’ll explore the importance of strong customer relationships and show you the best ways to build and nurture them.
In 2023, customers have plenty of choices—and they’ll only choose to do business with customer-focused companies who offer trust, respect, and added value. Strong client relationships will help you to:
Close relationships will bring greater success with projects and campaigns, and improve your brand image—all of which translates to higher revenue. When a client trusts you and enjoys working with you, they’re likely to spend more with your business.
91% of consumers say they're more likely to make a repeat purchase after a positive experience. It’s generally accepted that it costs more to acquire new clients than it does to retain existing ones. If you can maintain effective relationships with customers, they’ll stick around.
Happy clients are also the ones who recommend you to their friends and family, and post great reviews online—attracting more customers without you having to advertise.
Smooth customer relationships make work more enjoyable for employees, too. Having the skills and tools to treat clients well creates a positive environment with less stress and improved morale.
The deeper your relationships, the more you’ll learn about the client, and they’ll trust you to use their data ethically. You can use the information to personalize future interactions and get inspiration on what will delight a certain type of customer. This will all help boost customer retention and brand loyalty.
It takes time and effort to build long-term client relationships, but you’ll be successful if you pay attention to these key ingredients:
We’re not just talking about the importance of regular communication, but about how you communicate. It’s important to be polite, positive, and professional. Keep messages clear and to the point, and always check your spelling and grammar.
Prove how well you know the client by using their preferred channels and times of day to communicate. Some like to talk on the phone, while others prefer email. Instant messaging is ideal for quick updates, and video calls are good for face-to-face engagement. If you don’t know their preference, ask them!
You could invest in a cloud-based telephone system which will allow you to communicate with your clients in each of the aforementioned ways. You will also have the ability to record and transcribe calls.
You also need to speak the customer’s language—some people just want the bare facts, while others enjoy an informal chat.
The more you communicate, the deeper the relationship becomes. But it’s wise to put a structure in place to provide regular check-ins without bombarding the client with messages. For example, they’ll learn to expect a weekly update.
Timely responses are essential, especially if there’s a problem. However, you shouldn’t be expected to be available 24/7. Don’t ruin your work-life balance or neglect other clients.
Demonstrate that you see each client as a person, and use the information you’ve gathered to create a personal rapport. Call them by their preferred name, ask about their kids or pets, and remember where they’re going on vacation this summer. Small talk doesn’t waste time; it helps you build relationships (as long as you’re authentic).
Relationships are built on trust, so always be open about your abilities and expectations—and be honest about the client’s demands. Although you might want to avoid confrontation, you shouldn’t just tell them what they want to hear.
Clients also need to feel that they can be open and honest with you and that their ideas and concerns are taken seriously.
Customer-centric businesses learn everything they can about their clients. As well as researching your individual contact, find out about their company and its mission, values, and USP. What software do they use? What’s their budget?
When you’re aware of their challenges and pain points, you can align your solution with their business goals. For instance, if you sell family law software, show your client exactly how it will help them run their legal practice more efficiently.
Listening is also an essential pillar of the customer experience and crucial for establishing a meaningful connection. Pay attention to what they say, but also how they behave, so that you get a feel for how they like to do business and how they approach different situations.
Whether it’s completing a project ahead of the deadline, or following up on a problem, always make sure that you can fulfill what you’ve promised the client. If they demand something unrealistic, demonstrate your expertise by sharing your concerns and explaining why it won’t work.
Make sure you don’t oversell yourself by promising something that’s unattainable—it’ll only make you look unprofessional when it doesn’t come off. Using project management software can help your team stay organized and stick to deadlines.
If there is a genuine delay or issue at your end, you need to be honest and upfront about it. Explain to the client what’s happened and set their expectations for how and when you’re going to fix it. They’ll appreciate the fact that you didn’t try to cover things up.
Successful client relationships involve developing a working partnership, with trust and accountability on both sides. It’s about setting realistic expectations and putting them in writing, and ironing out any problems before they escalate. By treating your clients as partners, you’ll be able to work together more effectively.
For example, if you’re running a campaign for a client and it’s not bringing them the results they wanted, you can share your frustrations and concerns and come up with a solution. It’s a good idea to review the partnership regularly to ensure you’re still reaching for the same goals.
If your client has hired you to work for them or collaborate on a project, it’s because they see you as an expert. You need to prove them right by showing deep knowledge not only of your own product or service but of the industry as a whole.
It’s also important to share information that will help the client understand what you do, helping to build trust and confidence. You could create a guide or tutorial for your product, while a professional website with a robust knowledge base also shows off your expertise.
Be proactive with clients by sharing new ideas and strategies, and sending them helpful resources such as links to relevant blog articles or invitations to networking events.
Exceeding expectations is a great way to strengthen your client relationships. Finishing a project ahead of the deadline is good, but there’s far more you can do. For example, when you’re onboarding new clients, send them a welcome pack and set up an in-person or virtual meeting.
You can easily keep track of your meetings and appointments by using meeting scheduler software or Timify’s Booking Links app, which will also allow prospects to book meetings with your calendar without needing to go back and forth via email to find an appropriate time.
Personalize your communications as much as possible, and always think of ways to add value for clients—such as offering them a customized solution or throwing in a freebie. You can also show your appreciation by sending them some company swag after a key business milestone, a special offer or small token for their birthday, or a Christmas card.
As well as providing an immediate follow-up after the project ends, check in a few weeks or months down the line to see how things are going—this might also be an upselling opportunity.
You can’t improve if you don’t know what you’re doing wrong! Some clients won’t hesitate to give you their opinion, especially if there’s a problem, but don’t leave it up to them. Be proactive and encourage feedback, either after a specific project or just every couple of months. For example, if you provide line management tools, it’s important to keep up-to-date on what exact pain points are causing delays in collection for your clients.
You can go deeper than just CSAT (Customer Satisfaction) surveys or collecting customer effort and net promoter scores. Create your own in-depth survey, or just ask the client to provide feedback in their own words. Feedback requests are also a good way to stay in touch after completing a project.
63% of consumers say that companies need to do a better job of listening to feedback, so make sure you do! And if you implement new strategies or practices based on their responses, be sure to let them know—they’ll feel that you value their input.
Finally, you’ll need to use the right technology to nurture client relationships. It’s important to provide a choice of communication channels and to keep all your client details in one accessible CRM system. That way, sales reps and support agents have them at their fingertips for all interactions.
If you’re going to impress clients by getting work done ahead of schedule, you can use time and task management tools, as well as automation tools. Consider inventory forecasting software so that you don’t experience delays due to stockouts.
Smart tools will help you go beyond the fundamental elements of customer service by automating your processes with auto-assistants, IVR menus, and call routing. You’ll also need analytics software to gain insights from client behavior and feedback.__________________________
Maintaining strong client relationships is vital to the success of your business. With the right skills and tools in place, you’ll be able to drive revenue and growth, increase loyalty and referrals, and improve the overall experience for both customers and employees.
Jessica Collier is VP of Growth Marketing at Assembly Software, developers of practice management software and cloud-based solutions for the legal sector. Her passion for digital innovation and agile marketing has led to significant success in innovative tech marketing, client collaboration, and driving conversion results. You can check out her Linkedin here.