7 Best Practices For Building Client Relationships

By Chris Murdock

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Visualize your experience as a customer from the first time you spent your own money up until now. Consumers have been exposed to negative customer experiences. It's highly unlikely that you would return and do business with someone who treats you poorly. The success of companies hinges largely on strong, trustworthy client relationships. This is nothing new, and will only increase in the years to come.

A recent study found if customers are not satisfied, 13% of them will tell 15 or more people about the negative experience. As for the majority, 72% of customers will share a positive experience with 6 or more people. Rather than viewing yourself as a vendor, B2B companies (ourselves included) should aim to become a trusted partner for their clients. We have compiled a list of ways you can transition from a vendor to a trusted partner and how you can work on created and maintaining strong client relations.

1. Go above and beyond

51% of customers will never do business with a company again after a negative experience. Nobody wants their clients to have a poor experience, so putting them first at every opportunity counts. As a recruiter, you’re working together to help them acquire the best talent to fill their organization with new skills, diversity and innovation. It’s not about paychecks or contracts – it’s about what you can do for your clients that help them go further. You’re not doing “extra” work. You’re adding value to your client’s business, products and services by going above and beyond to make sure they and the candidates you recruit for them achieve more than just satisfaction.

First, clients will remember the times when you came through for them. They will feel as though they are your most important client. Staying on top of your game and at the forefront of your client’s needs establishes your brand as reliable, and reliability goes a long way toward building trust with your partners. Follow up with candidates because it’s the right thing to do for building your client’s employer brand and creating a positive relationship with the candidate, not because it’s convenient.

Second, going the extra mile for one client may open up additional streams of revenue and new offerings you had not previously considered. Networking can be a treasure trove of opportunities and clients that trust you are more likely to recommend you to their contacts. 83% of customers are willing to refer after a positive shopping experience.

2. Treat every client like your most important one

Happy clients are more likely to stay with you and make positive referrals. Sounds simple, right? But providing each of your clients with your best possible service is a pretty big challenge, no matter the size of your organization. Plus, you never know who your clients know and to whom they may refer you, but the takeaway is you want to be the partner they recommend.

67% of customers mention bad experiences as a reason for churn, but only 1 out of 26 unhappy customers complain. There is a strong possibility of maintaining unhappy clients without your knowledge. These clients could choose to go at any moment. It is also important to remember that organizations grow. Today’s small businesses could be the big businesses of tomorrow and it would be incredibly fulfilling to be a trusted partner fueling that growth!

3. Be patient with new relationships

Strong client relations take time. Try to resist indulging in disingenuous schmoozing. This can be a huge turn-off to new clients. Take time to get to know your new clients in an authentic way. Of course, you want to get to know them! Show that in an honest way and share a little about yourself as well!

Your work for your clients is paramount in building a relationship. I know, this seems obvious, but at the end of the day, no amount of personal connection or schmoozing can substitute for high-quality work that will satisfy your clients. Think of it like an “excellence begets excellence” motto – if you give excellent service 100% of the time, the world will see your business as excellent 100% of the time. In other words, the work you do will speak for itself when attracting new clients and presenting your brand and culture to the industry.

4. Get to know their industry and organization

Keep up with the ins and outs of each client’s company and industry. Keep up with the latest tools and news as well as the history of both. Of course, you do not need to be an expert. You should be able to speak the same “language” as the client. Knowing their industry will help you understand what keeps them up at night.

Getting to know your client’s organization and industry will not only make you look better as a knowledgeable partner but with this insight, you will be able to cater your interaction and offerings accordingly. You will have the opportunity to prepare for their needs based on the latest news in their industry. This is a win-win.

5. Always respond promptly

Sometimes, a simple acknowledgment is all that is needed to show how important a client is to you. When you receive an email from your client, simply acknowledge that you received it as quickly as possible, even if you do not have the answer right away. Let them know that you are “on it” and include a timeframe of when you expect to have the information requested back to them. It will show them their importance to you and your relationship with them.

This may seem like obvious advice, but some managers may worry about having the correct answer, and as a result, will put off acknowledging the email until they have a perfect response. Most of the time, your client simply wants to know that you received their message and they do not expect you to have a well thought-out response the moment they sent it.

6. Go beyond email communications

Despite its prevalence in the business world today, email communication can often be misconstrued. This is especially true in times of stress and if sarcasm is ever used. The way two people communicate through email can also be confusing and dangerous for relations when the senders and recipients do not know each other well.

Email is still efficient and a staple in the workplace. Mixing up your communication format will shed light on who you are, helps you get to know your client better and leaves little room for confusion. Consider an occasional phone call, video chat or an in-person meeting to put a face or voice to a name. 90% of customers say they have had poor experience seeking customer support on mobile. This is an opportunity to stand out from the competition and be available to assist on multiple platforms.

7. Recap and summarize the next steps

This is an easy one to miss. No matter how quick or trivial a client meeting seems, always make a point to recap the conversation and include the next steps in your partnership. You may believe you will remember every detail – which may be true for you – but that may not be the case for your client. 94% of consumers say they’re likely to be loyal to a brand that offers complete transparency.

Acknowledging everything that was said in a meeting will help all parties remember and will give you both the opportunity to clear up anything that could have been misconstrued in the meeting. Something might sound good in a casual conversation, but your client may have a change of heart once they see it in writing.

Customer experience is the new battlefield. 89% of companies expect to compete mostly on the basis of customer experience, versus 36% just years ago. The organizations that take their client relations seriously will rise above the rest and win over loyal customers in their space.

About Chris Murdock:

Chris Murdock is the Co-Founder and Senior Partner of IQTalent Partners. Chris has over 12 years of executive recruiting experience and leads search execution and client relationships along with supporting searches across the firm. Prior to Founding IQTalent Partners, Chris was a sourcer with Yahoo!’s internal Executive Recruiting team in the corporate offices in Sunnyvale, California. Previous to Yahoo!, Chris was an Associate in the Menlo Park, California office of with Heidrick & Struggles, where he recruited for software, hardware, professional services, and semiconductor clients. 

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