A positive relationship with clients is one of the most important parts of a successful business, and according to one survey as reported by Oracle.com, 86% of consumers will pay more for a better experience. That translates to business-to-business relationships too, in any industry, with companies having the potential to make billions more simply through better client experiences.
Clients need to know what’s going on. When they’re left hanging and forced to constantly track you down, eventually they’re going to go elsewhere. As former CEO Andrew Miller of Polycom explained in a Q&A with ZDNet, “Customers can have mixed environments,” but the main point is to increase collaboration which in turn increases productivity. Collaborate with your client by communicating regularly so that you understand their needs and problems and can provide a solution. Give regular updates on projects you’re already working on – the more you’re in contact with your client, the stronger their trust in you will be.
Larger companies, or businesses with many clients need to ensure they’re making use of the latest technology, including customer management relationship (CRM) apps and tools. Effectively tracking communication these days is a lot more than it used to be, back when one simply maintained an updated Rolodex.
Don’t Just Meet Expectations, Exceed Them
It’s not enough to simply meet the expectations of your clients, you need to raise the bar by over delivering whenever possible. When clients are impressed, they’ll keep coming back, often even when the competition offers a lower price. It’s fairly easy to do, for example, always add some cushion time to a delivery date, then when it’s delivered earlier than expected, the client will be happily surprised.
Address Issues Head On
When issues occur, on either side, it’s easy to want to just ignore them and hope they go away. But from human error to computer glitches, problems with suppliers and so on, inevitably something less than desirable will probably happen at some point in the relationship. By addressing these issues as soon as possible, it will give you more time to work on a contingency plan together, while alleviating last-minute pressure. Regular communication, as mentioned, can also prevent any misunderstandings in the meantime.
Ask for Feedback and Take Action
While some clients won’t hesitate to make their feelings known as to what they think about your services or products, many who are unhappy simply fade away. It’s important to know when your client is happy about something and when they aren’t so pleased so that you can take action that shows you’re listening. Invite your clients to provide feedback – you may want to conduct surveys that can be anonymous, in addition to sending an email, comment card, etc. to obtain the most honest results. It will help you to better understand your clients’ specific needs and ensure that you’re meeting their needs.
After receiving feedback, don’t just let it go unaddressed. Carefully listen and respond to any comments as quickly as possible whether positive or negative.