One thing is true for all businesses; if we have any work, we have customers! One of the most important parts of our work is maintaining and enhancing our relationships with our clients. Maintaining and growing these relationships makes the time spent on a project more enjoyable, satisfying and effective. Improved relationships also improves the chance that we will get referrals and future business. The following are a few things you can do to improve these important business relationships:
Have a Clear Contract with Your Client
This is the number one guideline for a successful customer relationship. Without a clear contract, neither you nor your client can be clear on roles and responsibilities, deadlines and deliverables or methodologies and measures. Beyond the importance of the contract to the project itself, a clear contract is a great aid to a good working relationship. The goal of a contract is clarity, as it can be a great aid to improved client relationships.
Get to Know Your Customers Better
All relationships are better when the individuals in the relationship take the time to get to know one another. Learn about your client’s interests. You will likely spend many hours with and around the client during the project / sale.
Ask More Questions and Listen More
When we ask questions, we understand situations better. Make the time to ask your customer how they feel and what they think; try to understand their observations. The skill of questioning is one of the most important in developing our ability to sell our products and / or services.
Be Willing to Say “No”
In many cases, clients ask us to do things beyond our capabilities or interests. When these new requests are outside the contract agreement, be willing to say no. Take time to understand both the client’s reason for asking as well as your ability to deliver. Don’t automatically say yes, just because “the customer is always right.”
Staying focused on your contract and on your deliverables is the best thing you can do to maintain and build your client relationships. Talk about deliverables and deadlines in client meetings. Showing focus and then delivering your promises builds credibility and enhances your relationships with your customers.