Few things in business are more important than client happiness. This is especially true for companies in the services industry. As a startup or young business, however, this is much easier said than done. I have seen this in our own businesses; when you are in your growth stages and you don’t have a key account or relationship manager in your business, it is very difficult to maintain healthy client relationships.
In my opinion, 90% of a good client relationship comes down to communication.
Clear communication and good expectation management will get you close to the perfect relationship status with your clients.
Many entrepreneurs don’t go through business school or any form of higher education, so customer service is unnatural to them. It has taken me a few years of service in the digital tech space to realise that a few small processes can turn your business into a happy client producing machine.
With this in mind, we have decided to make 2019 our year of client happiness. We are confident in what we can deliver as a digital business and have nailed our operational processes by automating and digitalising our processes. Therefore, our newfound focus will be on the following:
- Under promise, over deliver
- Expectation management
- Knowing our clients on a personal level
- Share valuable content and information
- Call your clients regularly
Under Promise, Over Deliver
Humans, in general, overestimate themselves when it comes to doing their work. I am also guilty in this regard. We tend to look at a given task and only think about what it will take to get it done and in what timeframe.
What we fail to consider is all the other tasks we are busy with or any obstacles or distractions that can cause delays. In order to overcome this, I propose 4 to 5 days for every 1 day estimated.
This gives the team ample time to deliver as well as adding additional finishing touches. I often notice that when one has enough time to polish your work, the end result is so much better.
Directly related to my previous point, managing client expectations solves more than half your problems. Our aim this year would be to explain our processes to our clients, from start to finish in order to set their expectations.
With clear and regular communication, it is easy to manage the expectations set originally and if something changes, early communication is required in order for the client to understand the reasons behind it. Telling the client on the day of delivery that you are late looks like the job was not done properly and is much too late to explain the obstacle that prevented you from delivering on time.
Another critical expectation to manage is feedback and how many rounds of changes are included in the service fees. Open-ended feedback rounds create many frustrations and set the wrong expectations from the client’s side early in the relationship.
Transparency: Don’t be afraid to say “No” or “I Don’t Know”
Everyone thinks they can come to us for tech or IT support because we are the experts. After all, they hired us for digital or technological reasons, so why not?
The truth is, there are many tech-related services that we could be knowledgeable about, yet we do not offer these services and don’t necessarily have all the answers. It is critical that when you find yourself in a situation where a client needs your help outside the realm of your professional services, that you say no and rather point them to someone better equipped to help.
We have burned relationships in the past by trying to help clients with services that we do not offer, and when something goes wrong outside of our control, we are to blame.
You cannot take responsibility for something that is not part of the core of what you deliver. It is not worth gambling your relationship with your clients over this.
Know Your Clients Personally
Becoming friends with my clients is something I’ve put a lot of emphasis on because I’ve witnessed the power of this first hand. Many of our clients would call me a friend today.
When you know a client personally, you can start every call or meeting with a personal touch, immediately changing the tone of the conversation from a business meeting, to a relaxed conversation between partners.
Again, business does not always go as planned, so being on a personal foot with your clients makes the conversation easier when something does go wrong.
“How you think about your customers influences how you respond to them.” — Marilyn Suttle
Share Valuable Content and Information
One of my personal favourite client interactions is sharing valuable content from credible sources with them. I spend a lot of time researching content as well as producing my own content, so if I learn something new in the process that relates to their market or industry, I like sharing it with them.
Sharing content with a client lets them know that a) I’m always learning about my industry, and b) I’m thinking about them.
It could spark a conversation that could lead to new work or a shift in strategy, but either way, it brings you a little closer together.
Call Your Clients Regularly
The key to a positive relationship is communication. However, in a small business when things are really busy it becomes difficult to do.
To solve this we have employed a Client Happiness Officer whose sole responsibility is client communication and maintaining a good relationship with our clients.
What excites me about this appointment, is that I know there is always someone readily available to talk with any client when needed. That opens up space for the creative team to focus on what they do best – delivering extraordinary creative work and growing our clients’ businesses.
meet Melissa, our new Client Happiness Officer
Client Happiness Officer
If you have any questions, queries or comments, please let Melissa know, and she will gladly assist.