Do your clients think of you as more than just a service provider? Do they consider you a true Partner? One to whom they turn for advice, guidance, and to increase the amount of business they do with you?
To go from provider to partner, you need to develop a strong relationship with your clients.
1. Give Your Clients What THEY Want
Your client may have initiated a relationship with your company based upon your marketing communications – what your company says about itself – but quickly, it is your customer’s experiences with your company that comes to define their impressions and loyalty.
A strong, lasting relationship between a client and a provider is partly the result of the client receiving the product(s) and/or service(s) that they want and need. If you are uncertain whether you are providing your clients with what THEY want and with what THEY need, it is time to include them in the conversation. Too often, companies, in the name of improving service, offer services that are based on hunches about their clients’ expectations, rather than on a true understanding of those expectations. Companies need to really listen to their customers, and to tailor their offerings accordingly, if they want to expand their role – and their relationship – with their clients.
2. Discern and Exceed Your Client’s Expectations
The other essential component to building a strong, lasting relationship with your clients is not just meeting, but exceeding, their expectations.
Discovering your clients’ expectations may require rethinking how you talk to your clients. An often used tool is the customer satisfaction survey. Your clients are asked to rank their satisfaction with various aspects of your company. For this example, we will use a scale of one to ten. If your clients circle sevens and eights, you might feel that while there is obviously some room for improvement, your clients are relatively satisfied.
There are a couple of fallacies with this type of logic. First of all, this type of survey measures your clients’ perceptions, not their expectations. If the clients were expecting the company to deliver nines and tens across the board, then the company failed to meet their expectations; they might actually be somewhat unsatisfied. Secondly, such a survey does not provide clients with the opportunity to share how they really feel about your company, its services and/or products and where there may be gaps. Thirdly, and perhaps most important, is the fact that ‘satisfied’ clients are not necessarily loyal ones. A more productive survey would include open-ended questions and multiple choice selections that include ‘Did not meet my expectations’ and ‘Exceeded my expectations’.
3. Make Certain Every Client Touch-Point Is Delightful
From the initial contact with your clients, through to when they are referring you to others, it is imperative that each and every touch-point is the best possible client experience. This means that every interaction, communication and process must be designed and executed with your clients in mind. Simple processes executed poorly will keep you in the provider category. Client-centric touch-points that separate you from the competition, bring you closer to becoming a true partner.
- Expanding existing relationships with clents by knowing and offering them the services and products that they want and need is key to continued growth.
- Do not assume you know what your clients want and need; ask them.
- Interact with your clients much more frequently and significantly. The quality of those interactions, more than the quality of your product or its price, is ultimately more likely to determine your clients’ loyalty.
- Make certain each every one of your client touch-points is client-centric and that your clients’ experiences with all aspects of your company are delightful.
Ultimately, expanding your client relationships will allow you to successfully differentiate your company from your competitors, to tap new revenue streams, and to enjoy your clients’ long-term loyalty.