Back to Basics: Build Stronger Client Relationships

By Robert Germain
Vice President of Client Success
Jul 11 2023 read

Living in 2023 can feel like being caught on a never-ending ride at an information theme park. Your car is fast, but no matter what you do, you’ll never catch the car in front of you — and you’ll never reach the end.

If trying to keep up with the trends, technologies and strategies other businesses are using to get ahead is disheartening, come back to the timeless basics. 

Pause and reflect. What’s most important to you about being in business? For most people in professional services, the answer is clients. They’re the driving force behind everything your team does. You might feel you already have great relationships with the people you serve, but when’s the last time you evaluated them?

Fundamentals of Client Relationships

Look at your existing relationships with a critical eye, and evaluate the following four elements.

1. Communication

Clear communication is the cornerstone of any successful relationship. Taking the time to understand clients’ needs, actively listening to their concerns and providing transparent information are essential. Does your team offer regular updates and prompt responses? Have you created open channels of communication that the client knows how to use?

2. Trust

You earn trust primarily through providing quality services. Meeting deadlines, following through on project plans and consistently delivering results establishes a foundation of reliability. Clients need to know your team has their best interests at heart and that they’ll follow through on promises.

3. Personalization

Every client is unique, and tailoring your services is a powerful way to differentiate yourself from the competition. Take the time to fully understand each person’s challenges and goals, especially if you serve a wide variety of clients. By customizing your solutions, you’ll make each client feel more connected to your business.

4. The extra mile

Exceptional client service goes beyond simply meeting expectations. It involves proactively identifying opportunities for improvement, providing valuable insights and offering additional support. Going the extra mile demonstrates that you’re dedicated to your clients’ success and helps build a lasting impression that sets you apart.


An honest review of your client connections

Have your team give themselves a rating on a scale of 1 to 5 based on how well they achieve each of the above. Then, send a short survey to your clients asking how they feel about these same elements so you can compare. Here’s how you might phrase your survey.

We’d love to know how we’re doing in your eyes! Please rate our team on the following statements, from 1 for “strongly disagree” to 5 for “strongly agree”: 

  • I always know how to get in touch with your team, and they make me feel heard.
  • I believe your team genuinely wants the best for me and is committed to achieving results.
  • I can tell that you understand my goals and have tailored your services to my needs.
  • I feel your team goes above and beyond what I would expect or have seen from other service providers.

To encourage participation, you may want to allow the option to respond anonymously. 


 Think From the Client’s Perspective

Seeing from the other person’s perspective is a crucial aspect of a strong relationship. Just think about how healing it can be to put yourself in another’s shoes during an interpersonal conflict. 

This simple practice is just as useful in business. The trick is to get your entire team to unite in this approach. You’ll want to train your employees to commit to:

  • Active listening: Instead of guiding the conversation in a singular direction, stay open-minded and hear what your clients are really saying.
  • Open dialogue: Give people the space to think when you ask a question, and respond honestly if you need something clarified.
  • Thoughtful questions: Ask about more than the obvious impact of the problems they might be experiencing. 
  • Willingness to hear feedback: Remember that the only way to get better is to reflect on where you’ve fallen short.

These skills are key because, unlike in other relationships, you can’t rely on observation and body language. You can’t be around your clients all the time, so you have to pay attention to what they share in calls and meetings and shape your engagements around those clues. 

Show your clients you’re thinking from their vantage point by anticipating their needs and making customized recommendations. Sometimes, this may mean taking them by surprise — stepping outside the norm for your industry and offering an unexpected service add-on or pivoting when necessary. 

➡️ Cortevo Technologies becomes an integrated partner to the schools they serve. See how Accelo helps them maintain these trusted relationships.

The Returns: Reduced Churn and More Recurring Work 

When people feel they’re in a true partnership with a service provider, they’re likely to think long and hard about giving that up. Working on client relationships can make your services indispensable to your clients, preventing churn and insulating your business in tough times.

If you treat one-time clients with the same interest and respect that you do long-term clients, you may see some of the former turn into the latter. That means there will be less pressure to spend money on acquiring new clients.


Proof of the value of client relationships

The team at Tegrita, a MarTech consulting firm, used Accelo to build a smoother client journey, stabilizing relationships and increasing client commitment by 90% in four years.


Get Help From Tech

A relationship-first approach is a win all around, but it does take effort to sustain. One of the easiest ways to facilitate stronger connections with your clients is to use technology that helps you uphold these company values. 

Accelo was built to help you keep clients at the forefront of your business while increasing internal efficiency and, in turn, profitability. Learn what’s possible for your service firm with an integrated CRM.


About the Author


Robert Germain is Vice President of Client Success at Accelo, where he manages the Professional Services, Customer Success and Support teams. With over 30 years in client-facing roles in the IT Managed Services and SaaS industries, Robert builds and mentors industry-leading teams to reach achievable yet ambitious business goals while always seeking to enhance the service experience for his clients.

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