We all engage in countless relationships throughout our lives, and many of us segment those relationships into categories: family, friends, colleagues and other common groups. When we think about them in terms of separate buckets, we can’t see the similarities.
Truly, business relationships aren’t radically different from personal ones. They require navigating the complexities of human communication and learning to connect in a way that’s best for all parties involved. And no matter how many you’ve had and worked on, they can be challenging to maintain.
In professional services industries, the success of a business depends largely on the strength of its client relationships. Sometimes, you need a refresher on how best to approach the people who hire your team.
We’re dedicating this article to discussing:
Despite the fact that clients are the beating heart of a service business, many business owners and leaders still see them as sources of revenue rather than partners in a shared journey.
Shifting your mindset to see clients’ struggles and successes as your own can inform every sales meeting, every project planning session and every issue resolution that takes place in your business. Rather than seeing your role as performative, it’s helpful to recognize that you and your clients have common goals. You’re not just providing a service — you’re standing by them as they experience the benefits of your team’s guidance.
Let’s practice this mindset adjustment with some concrete examples:
Meeting customer expectations isn’t just about making good on the services they’re requesting and moving on to the next. It’s about digging into the deeper layers of what those requests represent. By demonstrating understanding of the bigger picture for each client, you’ll add value above and beyond deliverables and simultaneously invest in customer loyalty.
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You’ve heard that first impressions matter. Research shows something as simple as smiling in the first seven seconds when you meet a new person can lay the foundation for a positive connection.
While you may not be meeting potential customers in person, your business’s marketing presence can have the same effect. Customer trust starts to grow when a prospect engages with a piece of content, watches a video ad or reads a social review. Your marketing team may never personally talk to prospects, but they’re planting the seeds for the kinds of customer interactions you want to have later on.
When people have an opportunity to interact with a member of your sales team, that first impression begins to develop into a full-blown relationship. The process of selling your services is really about selling the potential client on how well you’ll attend to their needs beyond that initial stage.
If you haven’t developed a playbook to improve your sales funnel yet, remember that these early touch points are just as important as the quality of service you provide once a client has signed a contract.
Once you’re in the midst of completing active projects for a client, the challenge is to remember that relationship building is not just a job for a customer success team. Project management is internal, but every task and milestone your team achieves can have an impact on customer retention. Even your finance team can have an effect with how they create invoices and implement consistent billing practices.
You can increase customer loyalty by training all of your employees on the basics of client relationships:
Like other types of staff training, customer relationship management training should not be limited to new hire onboarding. Your employees need regular reminders about what your business stands for and how you expect them to contribute to a solid relationship with each of your clients. The size of your team and the nature of your services might evolve over time, but these core values should remain.
Accelo makes these client relationship fundamentals easy for your team to maintain. Explore how it could work for your business with a free trial or demo.
Ongoing relationships shouldn’t rely on one team member or medium. Rather, they’re the accumulation of many different methods of interaction.
You’ll likely want to apply a mix of the following to keep in touch with clients regularly:
A consistent tone across all of these channels is key. It can be helpful to have your team members who write bulk client communications collaborate with those in charge of social media copy. If you have a team handling support tickets, their tone should align so clients feel like every message they receive is representative of your business, not an individual.
While you don’t want to overwhelm clients with too much outreach, you don’t want them to feel ignored either. Think about how much you want businesses to interact with you when you’re the customer and aim to provide real value with each interaction.
NOTE: Communication with existing clients shouldn’t induce significant stress for your team. If it’s too much of a struggle to work with or resolve issues for a particular client, consider that it may be time to cut ties. Believe it or not, reducing your quantity of clients might actually be a profitable move like it was for one tax consultancy using Accelo. Having fewer clients could allow your team to focus on building better relationships with the ones you keep.
The Secret Ingredient: A Single Source of Communication History
What if you could see a history of all communication on a client’s account, no matter which person on your team has engaged with the client? You don’t have to dig into every employee’s email history to peek in on customer interaction. Accelo provides unmatched visibility via its handy Activity Stream, a popular feature that allows you to monitor conversations with clients even if the assigned team members are on vacation.
To fully execute on all of the above, we recommend implementing customer relationship management software — ideally, a platform that offers a suite of tools for improving the customer experience rather than just a method of storing customer data.
Accelo is the ultimate end-to-end platform for managing every stage of the client journey and aligning internal tasks with external communication. Schedule a demo to discover its potential to improve customer relationships from the first moment a prospect hears from your sales team to their recurring contract renewals.