In this latest Business Incorporation Zone blog, you will discover:
- How to improve customer relationship management that lasts for the long term
- The importance of understanding your own capabilities before taking on clients
- Why delivering more than is expected is a sure way to build positive client relationships
- The critical role of transparency in customer relationship management
When you form a business relationship, you should be aiming to make it last.
A relationship shared between you, your valued client, where both sides truly understand each other and are working positively towards the same goals sounds like a dream for customer relationship management – almost utopian!
However, it’s perfectly possible to achieve this provided you have your eyes set on the right prizes.
There are of course lots of small habits and behaviors that, when added together, will contribute to a positive partnership with your new client. To truly establish a long-term partnership though, your eyes will have to be on the bigger picture.
Here are the 4 strategies we believe are crucial to building long-term client relationships:
- Scope out your own internal capacity, first and foremost
- Define clear expectations, and work towards exceeding each one
- Understand the knowledge gap, and provide insights they couldn’t obtain by themselves
- Be transparent – through good and bad
- Firstly, scope out your own internal capacity
While the majority of the focus in this blog is very much customer relationship management oriented, we will begin with the spotlight firmly on you.
Customers for client-facing businesses look a little bit different. If you want to be competitive, you should actually feel like you have two sets of customers – the customers of your client, and the client themselves.
This is important to have a handle on before day one because getting to know both in-depth takes time, and resources.
From an internal perspective, you should be clear on what load your business can actually take on, and exactly how much genuine time you can dedicate to developing your relationship with your new client, and getting to know both your new customer and their existing customers.
This revolves around the concept of attentiveness. That is, making your client feel like they’re being listened to, you’re giving them your genuine undivided attention, and you’re truly listening to them. Customer retention loss has risen 37% since 2016 as a result of poor customer service, and the conversation about feeling ‘listened to’ is as alive today as it’s ever been in business.
As a result, it is critical to allow your team the opportunity to provide a positive experience to these customers, to set the relationship for long-term success. Spreading your team too thin at such a crucial stage of the relationship development process could well leave you without that client very soon.
Knowing exactly what your own personal scope is means you will be able to provide the most personable and attentive client experience possible, which will undoubtedly contribute to their desire to keep doing business with you. This is an approach with the long term in mind.
- Define your client’s expectations and build processes to exceed them
A recent study completed by open market cloud platform Acquia highlighted that 66% of customers cannot remember the last time they had their expectations exceeded.
That’s an incredible statistic, as well as an opportunity.
Exceeding expectations creates a ‘wow’ factor. It makes your client feel like they’re getting more than what they paid for. They will have an idea in their head of the problems they’re looking towards you to solve – go beyond them, and make them feel wowed. This is a highly effective approach to customer relationship management.
But, it all hangs on that keyword – expectation. So firstly, you need to know exactly what these are before you can plan to exceed them.
These parameters should be set at the earliest opportunity. While pre-boarding a client should be more focused on setting the right tone, the onboarding stage is when you will typically gain an understanding of what’s expected from the partnership.
These expectations should be tangible, so you know exactly what you’re aiming to beat.
It will be critical to determine exactly what is in-scope and out-of-scope, on both sides of the table, and have some kind of verbal handshake on this. From here, this is where you really make your mark.
Is the client expecting a brand audit? Don’t just hold a mirror up to their business, develop a brand book that demonstrates how you think they can look in the future.
Does the client want a social media calendar built to improve their online presence? Don’t just create a series of posts, dig deep into the inner workings of their business, and their industry, and tell their story within it.
Whatever your client expects, add interest. That’s a sure way to keep them on board for the long term.
- Tell them things about their business that they wouldn’t know themselves
While this may sound simplistic on the surface, dig a little deeper and the value of this is huge.
One way to keep a client for the long term? Provide regular insights to them that they simply would not be able to know by themselves.
This point is about taking full advantage of the knowledge gap that you are bridging between your client and their business aims.
The chances are, if you are in a client-customer relationship, you will be providing expertise to their business that they do not currently have.
Problem solved then, right? Well, not really. They could hire a small marketing team if they really wanted, notwithstanding the obvious costs this would incur. Or they could bring their accounting in-house and you’re a client down.
There are of course many factors that contribute to the decision to outsource, but you don’t want to contribute to the argument of bringing things back in-house. To do that, tell your client something that they simply wouldn’t be able to determine on their own.
To do this, you should constantly be providing value to the client, that goes well beyond what they both knew, and (tying back into point 2) expected.
Getting high-quality insights will be dependent on factors such as high-quality data, industry knowledge, and constant research on the business and its competition, which is why having the scope to provide this is so crucial as highlighted in point 1.
The point remains, however. If you can consistently provide valuable, insightful information to your client, you will become so critical to the operation of their business that they couldn’t possibly look elsewhere and replicate it.
- Be Transparent – Through Good and Bad
Transparency is becoming more critical in business than ever before, from both the perspective of the employee and the customer alike. In the context of customer relationship management, it has arguably never been more critical to allow transparency to prevail above all else.
Transparency is the cornerstone of any strong relationship, and data reflects this. 89% of people are willing to provide second chances to businesses when they put a foot wrong – provided that they are transparent about it, and demonstrate exactly how they’re going to resolve the issue.
What else would you need to know to set the tone for transparency being a core value of your approach to client relationships?
The important part of this transparency statistic too is that it’s focused on crises. While the definition of a crisis is open to interpretation, we can simplify it by defining it as anything that doesn’t keep both client and customer heading in the same direction.
Maybe performance is below expectations; maybe a client wants to take a particular direction, that you know industry data advises against. Tough conversations may be required, but to build a foundation that’s set for the future, being transparent within this is crucial.
Your client should feel knowing that the story you tell them is reflective of the facts and that there are no hidden blemishes that are kept to one side. This is why establishing a partnership that is driven by data insights is crucial, as data is moored in truth and reality. They provide insights, not opinions.
If the story is transparent, they can gear their business up to manage the circumstances appropriately. It may be time for them to scale their budget, it may be time for them to cut back.
Let transparent conversations that are moored in data determine this, and leave the face-saving at the door – the stats prove it doesn’t work in the long term.
Long-Term Client Relationships
As an entrepreneur, you will undoubtedly understand the true value of building long-term partnerships with your clients that are built to persevere over many years. In our position as business setup specialists, we work with entrepreneurs on a daily basis to build long-lasting partnerships of our own – with you.
We believe in the importance of building partnerships with our clients that span beyond the lifecycle of the transactions we complete with them. If you are looking for professional assistance in launching your new business venture, let’s connect and start a conversation that’s with the long term in mind.
Get in touch with us here-
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