Relationship Marketing – A Long-Term Commitment, Not A One Night Stand

Client Relationships – Where do I start – well since working at Flume, I very quickly discovered how good client relationships can shape a lasting partnership between clients and account managers. Your relationships with your clients determine your success.  It determines the pace of your workload, stress levels and ultimately overall ease or difficulty of your daily tasks.  These relationships can also have a huge personal impact and can greatly influence your drive, determination and passion for the industry and the work you do.  I have learnt that although these relationships are easily formed, they are also quickly destroyed if they aren’t nurtured.

Relationship Management and customer retention go hand in hand.  As account managers, it is our responsibility to ensure strong client relations are formed and maintained, by adding consistent value throughout every campaign and displaying our passion and care on both a professional and personal level.  A happy client is a repeat client.  Without client retention, we wouldn’t have repeat business and without repeat business, there would not be a business.

UNPACKING CUSTOMER RETENTION

As per Harvard Business School report, on average, increasing customer retention rates by 5% increases profits by 25%-95%. This substantiates the importance of customer retention in driving sales and revenue.

Small business owners and independent professionals tend to focus their resources on customer acquisition rather than customer retention.  However, new projects don’t always mean new clients.  Nurturing relationships with existing clients, consumes less time, effort, and ultimately, less money.  Strong relationships with existing clients also help drive the strongest and most credible marketing source of a business – by word of mouth – FOR FREE.

Client relationships are essential to business success, however they can be temperamental, sensitive, and require consistent attention, below are a few tips I have learnt thus far that may aid you in strengthening your personal and professional relationships with clients.

12 USEFUL TIPS TO HELP STRENGTHEN YOUR CLIENT RELATIONSHIPS: 

1.     Communication

Timely, efficient communication should be a priority.  Of course, communication with a single client should not consistently and unreasonably intrude on your personal time, or negatively affect your productivity.  However, being available demonstrates that your client’s project and satisfaction is important to you.

2.     Ask simple questions

Direction from client can sometimes be a bit scattered, I have learnt to ask very simple and specific questions that allow them to answer either “yes” or “no” rather than long open-ended questions that leave you more confused than before.

3.     Exude a positive attitude

We all get caught up in what sometimes seems as a never-ending pit of work, however as stressed out, or overwhelmed as you may feel, it’s important to show a positive face to your clients.  Enthusiasm and positive energy are attractive personality traits that people enjoy being around and that clients enjoy working with.

4.     Acknowledge that your client is a person, not a number

While your relationship with your client is of a professional nature, acknowledging that you see them as a person—more than a paycheck—can go a long way.  Make an effort to get to know your client, do they prefer tea or coffee? What activities do they enjoy outside of work? Are they parents? Investing in clients on a personal level, gives them a sense that you care.

5.     Share your knowledge

If your client doesn’t understand your area of expertise, they may misinterpret the intricacies of the process and therefore feel disconnected from the development of the project. This is your opportunity to share information that will help the client understand what you do, which will build trust and confidence in the process. Explaining to the client what you did, why you did it, and how you came to your decisions will help them feel knowledgeable and in-the-loop.

6.     Be Open

It’s crucial that you maintain a policy of openness when it comes to your professional opinions regarding the best interests of the campaign.  It can be tempting to just agree with client to avoid uncomfortable confrontation, however, telling a client what you think they want to hear, or withholding your true opinion about a campaign are not only counterproductive, but can also damage your reputation with the client.  By confidently expressing your honest opinions, clients will respect your initiative and desire for excellence.

7.     Exceed Expectations

Make sure that you don’t oversell yourself and promise unrealistic results. By setting reasonable expectations, you give yourself the opportunity to completely impress the client with the final result.  This will help position yourself as someone they would like to continue to work with and someone they can rely on to produce quality work in a timely manner.  Always try to offer more than what is expected, show you care, show your interest – clients appreciate unexpected effort.

8.     Deliver only your best work

Delivering great work not only keeps the workflow in motion, but it helps build trust for future projects.  If you don’t feel it is your best work, don’t deliver it!

9.     Know when to say no to clients

Yes, it is OK to say no to clients and no it doesn’t always jeopardies the relationship. In fact sometimes it can help build respect.  As account managers, we need to shape relationships with our client that ensures the relationship is mutually beneficial. Practicing the word “No” has personally helped me convert a rushed and disjointed project into a quality campaign.

10.  Be flexible

Always try to do your best to make it work for them and to accommodate their needs – they really appreciate this flexibility. Never come across annoyed or put out by the client.  Always reassure them that you have their best interests at heart.

11.  Don’t forget to follow up

Following up is key to effective client relationship management. If clients take time to respond simply add reminders into your diary every 2 or 3 days to give them a gentle nudge.  Clients like to know that their agency is continually driving the work forward – but don’t annoy them 😉

12.  Be honest and be yourself

Be honest about your capabilities, how long it takes you to get things done and exactly what skills you have. If you mislead your clients about what you can provide then there will be disappointment all round, the relationship will fail and you will lose work.

Take a relationship for granted, expect too much or appear apathetic, and rapport will deteriorate in a hurry.

Client relationships, just like marriages and friendships require a great deal of work. There are good times, there are bad times, happy times and bumpy times, however, like all successful relationships they are built on honesty, trust and through consistent nurturing. Successful client relationships are a long-term commitment, NOT a one night stand.