Client Knows Best
Author: Tracey Hofmann, Marketing Strategic Communications Coordinator
As business owners, we’re expected to keep the well-being of clients and/or customers top of mind. After all, clients pay for and directly receive our goods or services. But for those looking to level up, the focus shouldn’t be about the financial transaction. It should be on the relationship. How can you and your client’s relationship become more meaningful and impactful for you both? Here are five suggestions to help you build better business relationships.
- Listen & Learn – Listen to your clients’ needs and strive to be a resource to help them achieve their goals. Seek for mutually beneficial relationships and get into the “friend zone” as these builds trust. Trust helps clients open up about their pain points and keeps you motivated to help them find the right solutions. Building trusting business relationships requires authenticity and transparency. It also makes work more enjoyable for both you and your client. The key to me is “listening” with interest and intent — interest to learn how things are going for the individual and the business, to understand where they are thriving or where they are struggling; and intent to celebrate their success or to genuinely offer insights and/or possible solutions to help them overcome their difficulty. I’ve found showing genuine care and maintaining an others-focused approach, without thought of what it may bring to you, builds trust. Trust moves people from the category of acquaintances to friendships. If we look over our client contact list, we find that most consider us more than a firm that supports their marketing communication needs; we are considered friends. – Claire Riggs, Managing Partner, Riggs Creative Group
- Go the Extra Mile – We conduct a great deal of business via email but sometimes that method of communication can be misconstrued or even be a bit cold. Picking up the phone to have a direct conversation adds personality to the mix and can help you avoid miscommunications. Venturing away from your desk to meet a client outside the office shows the interest you have in the project and the amount of care you plan to put into it. Suzanne Bauer, Project Manager for Inspira Health, recently reached out for us to create “Food Farmacy” signage at the Bridgeton location. Inspira’s Food Farmacy+, with locations at Inspira Health Centers in Bridgeton and Woodbury, now offers fresh produce and hygiene items for patients in need. I traveled to Bridgeton to meet with Lauren Clinton, Client Services Manager Marketing & Public Relations. We walked the space, took pictures, and chatted about the vision they had for reaching out into the community. That connection ensured the creative outcomes we delivered exceeded their expectations. – Melody Edwards, Creative Director
- Express Appreciation – A handwritten thank you card can go a long way. Taking the time to show your appreciation may be that special touch that keeps you top of mind when the client needs the services you offer. Verbally reminding a customer that you’re thankful for their business or sending a quick “just following up” email to ensure they are satisfied with the work or product provided goes a long way. It gives the client an opportunity to provide you with feedback, which you need to be ready and open to hear. Keep in mind that a client who feels valued and heard is more likely to become a repeat customer.
- Be Honest and Set Realistic Expectations – When things go wrong (and they will at some point), be clear, respectful, and honest. If there was a mistake on your end, own it. It’s not easy to do, but your honesty will get you more understanding than you think.
Since the pandemic, there have been supply shortages and delays on certain goods and services. What clients are used to receiving quickly can sometimes be difficult to achieve in today’s market. Setting realistic expectations for your clients, even if it means you might not win the work, will be better for your business in the long run. If there’s a hiccup in your process or un unexpected delay, take the time to reach out and explain it. – Tracey Hofmann, Marketing Communications Coordinator
- Show You Care – Revel in the success of your clients and be helpful in your approach. Do you have a client that would benefit from meeting another of your clients? Introduce them! This unselfish act of kindness, even if it doesn’t benefit your business at all, can improve your business relationships by developing trust and friendship. It feels good too!
Employees and Partners
Building business relationship does not stop with your customers. Where would most companies be without your employees and partners? The same five tips apply but here’s a couple more for creating a harmonious work environment.
- Opinions Welcome – Let employees and partners make suggestions or express concerns. Leaders should make a habit of keeping communication lines open. This empowers everyone involved in the business by letting them have a voice in its success. It’s also needed to improve efficiencies. This kind of company culture can help with employee retention.
- Let Them Eat Cake! – This is not just a selfish ploy to get our managing partners to bring in cake. They know I like ice cream (wink, wink, nudge, nudge). Let’s face it, we are at work much of the time. Of course, we are required to complete tasks, sell products, and meet deadlines but there should be some time set aside for fun. Whether it is a company meeting, a lunch outing, or even just taking a few minutes to talk about what you did over the weekend, this helps employees unwind for a bit with their colleagues. It adds a human touch to the work day.
By taking some of these steps to build better business relationships, you may see the benefits of increased repeat business. By keeping your work culture positive, productive and enjoyable, you also make your company an attractive option to potential hires, while retaining your existing employees.