Growing up in a small town, I was accustomed to being surrounded by familiar faces who knew my story almost as well as I did. When you know everybody, you quickly learn everyone is tied together in some way or another: a mother to a daughter, a banker to a long-time customer or a pet to an owner. It doesn’t take long to realize these small connections form a tangled web of people that extends much further than you would ever think.
In the business world, connection is one of the most powerful tools in your toolbox. No connections are stronger than the ones you create with your clients. A study by the Khoros Research Center found that 83% of consumers feel how a brand treats them is just as important as the products they sell. So how do we maximize client relations? Here are five essential elements for creating strong connections which lead to mutual success.
Life is constantly changing, and so are your clients’ wants and needs. Many of these changes require shifting priorities. Adapting quickly isn’t an inherent trait for everyone. Some of us have to work at it. But as you learn more about your clients, it will get easier to adapt. Eventually, you may be able to anticipate their needs.
Become a list person
I am absolutely not the to-do list type. I often find lists very restricting when new requests come in or priority projects pop up. However, client relations is a constant juggling act, and you never want to drop the ball.
There are tons of ways to increase organization. The path will be different for every person. Personally, I use a variety of reminders. These range from tasks through our project management software, calendar reminders for follow-ups, sticky notes, or the classic to-do list.
Remember, just because it’s on a linear list, doesn’t mean you have to do tasks in order. Each one will have its own priority and timeline based on the clients’ needs. Having these records will help you meet deadlines.
Connection is based on mutual trust. How do you build trust? By being candid and honest – always. This might even include saying, “Hey, I messed up on this.” As humans, we mess up. When that happens, the best thing we can do is be honest and look for workable solutions.
We all know what it is like to get busy. In the customer relations business, you will find that no one is busier than your client. They are wearing many hats – sales, accounting, marketing, client relations and leadership. When you are juggling all those responsibilities, emails get lost in the shuffle. Sometimes this means it’s our job to hold clients accountable with a friendly reminder. Think of it this way. When I was little, my mother knew I could get distracted, so she would gently remind me to clean my room…four to five times. Sometimes our clients need the same push. Don’t feel bad sending that follow up email or giving them a ring to make sure that everything is on track.
In the world of marketing, 50% of our time is spent planning how to help a client’s business succeed. Most people think that marketing is easy, but there are so many factors that go into it. The most popular breakdown of marketing/public relation efforts is the PESO model – paid, earned, shared, owned. Each area needs their own unique strategy centered around the client. All this planning needs to be done months in advance to ensure you don’t miss any opportunities. This is where those lists can come in handy.
Life is all about the little connections we create every day. These only get stronger if we nurture and grow them through flexibility, organization and honesty. By investing in client relationships, we can make this big world feel a little bit smaller.