Learning How To Everything Part 2: Tips For Maintaining A Great Client Relationship

Relationships are hard. Especially when you’re income is dependent upon their success. Your customers and clients need to believe in your company and ability to give them a strong online presence. When you do your job correctly and communicate clearly, maintaining client relationships doesn’t have to be so difficult. Here’s a few tips to help you get through the many hurdles of client success.
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Know Your Stuff

Have you ever been asked a question you weren’t sure of by a client? It can be an awkward situation as the professional when you don’t have an answer for everything. This is especially true if you don’t handle the response well and start mumbling or act uncomfortable. A good way to respond is by being completely honest and inform the client you’ll do research and get back to them with an answer, instead of trying to fake the front.

Customer Success Manager at Rivet, Stephanie Carls, has encountered several of these types of questions and offers a way around these sticky situations.
“Have confidence when you give suggestions to your clients. As your relationship with your client grows, so does their confidence in you as someone who can offer suggestions for best uses of your platform.  If you waver on decisions, it starts to give clients an uneasy feeling. They always want to know you are looking out for their best interest and will provide the best use cases for their programs.”

Simplify Your Verbiage

SEO is complicated. Especially when you’re trying to explain what an algorithm is to the local barber shop owner. Take your time and approach what you’re trying to say from the clients perspective.

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Are you using marketing slang in your descriptions? What you think is common jargon can become language barriers between you and a client. Explain in detail what they can expect, and what that really means. Improving your rankings on Google may not mean anything to a client. Making them show up on page one of Google means everything. Understand what language works best for them and accommodate.

Communication is Everything

If a spontaneous meeting is needed because of errors or a lack of communication, take advantage of the opportunity to reconnect with your client and evaluate the situation. Clients need to hear what you’re really trying to say and what actually happened. That doesn’t mean you have to be defensive or automatically look at the conversation as a negative thing. Instead, look at client conversations and meetings as a way to deeply connect with the client, reassure your professionalism to them and the company’s ability to exceed their expectations.

There are several tools that can help streamline meetings and make yourself more available for communication. Felena Hanson, CEO and Founder of Hera Hub, a coworking space for women, uses several different tools to communicate to her customers and potential business partners.

“In building a platform for hundreds of female entrepreneurs we are consistently making sure we are creating a productive coworking space where everyone has a voice and can easily find the resources they need.  I sometimes feel like I use every communication vehicle known to man to ensure that we’re staying visible with customers (our members) – Facebook groups, Google hangout, email, text message, and good old fashion face-to-face connections.  We use some of the same tools to support our franchisees.  Thank goodness for FaceTime, Skype and GoogleHangout or I would be on a plane to the East Coast every other week!”

Be Aware of Your Deadlines

When giving estimates and deadlines to clients, it’s important to make them feel like they’re you’re only client. We all know they’re not, but making them feel like they are priority is important for relationship building.

That doesn’t mean you have to promise a 24-hour turnaround when you have other projects with tighter deadlines. Give yourself more time than you need so you’re always delivering early, while still accommodating their needs. It’s the idea of under promising and over delivering. Making too many promises when you’re nervous or because you don’t know how to say no won’t make a great impression after having to continuously apologize for delays.

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Image Source: Giphy

Correct Your Mistakes

Every once in a while you or someone on your team will make a mistake. Even though us perfectionists try our best to avoid failure, of any kind, mistakes happen. If you’ve made a rather large or highly unexpected mistake, calculate what a valuable response would be and reciprocate with such. 

If you’re contracted to write four blog posts a month, and accidentally used one of their images incorrectly, take responsibility and ensure it won’t happen again. Throw in a free blog post for next month or some form of compensation that shows you really care about the issue. You’ll quickly see how fast the client is willing to forgive you and grant you their trust, once again.

What If My Client Is The Worst?

We’ve all had that one client. That one who truly thinks they’re your only client and expect the world delivered to them on a silver platter. Those can be tough clients, but not because of their neediness. The toughest part is learning when to fight your battles and when to stop typing and start doing. Here’s a few tips for lowering your blood pressure:
  • Breathe. Before you start your lengthy email rant of how unfair everything is, take a deep breathe. Every one of your clients and customers are important, equally important, and are the foundation of your company and the business you work for. Mistreating one because you can’t keep your temper together is not a reason to loose a client.
  • Look at the other perspective. For your client, their business is their everything. Just as is it for you. If results aren’t coming in as expected or budgets are tight, take a second and reflect on all of the business road bumps you’ve overcome and how important succeeding is to you. It’s just as important to them, so have a little bit more compassion and understanding when dealing with client hurdles.
  • Don’t forget about the bigger picture. Have you gotten in the habit of doing the same tasks over and over again, forgetting what the overall goal is? It’s important to have regular meetings, reporting, and communication with your client to make sure you both are on the same page. This also gives the client a designated time and place to voice their concerns and opinions, instead of constant emails and phone calls out of the blue.
  • Know when to adjust. If the amount of time you’re spending on a client exceeds how much you are getting paid from such client, it might be time to reconsider the relationship. Does the client have enough budget so you can charge what you think is right, while being able to give the client actionable results? If so, plan out ahead of time and draft up a proper response to approach the increase.
  • It may be time to “fire” your client. Unfortunately having to “fire” clients is a real thing and does come up for all of us. How you do it makes all the difference for your future reputation and branding. If there is someone else you know who would be a better fit, refer them to your client. Don’t 100% throw your client out without a final month of service or at least a great referring company who can better help them. 
Whether you have tons of clients or just a few, maintaining great client relationships is the most important thing you can do for your business. Never dull your value as a company, but more importantly never dull the value of your clients. Happy client=happy life!
Do you have a great client story? Share it in the comments below!
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