All consultants have one thing in common: if we have work, we have clients! Maintaining and improving our client relationships is one of the most crucial aspects of our business. The time spent on a project is more fun, rewarding, and successful when these relationships are maintained and grown. Improved relationships increase the likelihood of receiving referrals and future business. Here are seven things you can do to improve these crucial business relationships, as well as some ideas on how to get started.
- Make sure you and your client have a clear contract. This is the most important rule for a successful customer relationship. You and your client won't be able to agree on roles and duties, dates and deliverables, techniques, and metrics until you have a clear contract. A clear contract is a tremendous aid to a healthy working relationship, in addition to the value of the contract to the project itself. A contract's purpose is clarity, not legalese, and as a result, it's a terrific tool for bettering client relationships.
As a minimum, your mutually agreed-upon contract should include the following:
- You and members of the client organization's roles and duties
- The methods you plan to employ during the project
- The project timeframe
- A definition of success
- Get to know your customer a little better. When the individuals in a relationship take the time to get to know one another, the connection improves. Discover the client's passions. During the project, you'll probably spend a lot of time with and around the customer. You should be aware of their preferences for fine French cuisine, exotic candies, and Oakland Raiders football. Some clients value this more than others, but we all enjoy conversing with others about our common interests.
In every meeting, make it a point to learn something new about each client. Once you've learned anything new, make track of it in your contact manager, project notes, or wherever else you can find it later.
- Inquire further. We gain a greater understanding of events when we ask inquiries. Take the time to ask your client how she feels, what she thinks, and try to comprehend her views about the project's progress and your performance. One of the most significant talents we can cultivate to improve our consulting abilities and relationships is the ability to ask good questions.
- Have the courage to say "No." Clients frequently ask us to accomplish things that are beyond our capabilities or interests. When these new requests go outside the scope of the contract, be prepared to say no. Take the time to learn about the client's request as well as your ability to fulfill it. Just because "the Customer is Always Right" doesn't mean you should instantly say yes.
By saying "No," you may be able to keep your project on track by not expanding its scope. Saying "No" may also imply that you will not accept extra work from the client. In either scenario, having a firm focus on your personal goals makes it easier to say no. "What is the purpose of my business today and in the future - and how does this request fit into that picture? Ask yourself. More practically, I've found myself wondering if this new work will thrill or interest me. This is an excellent subject to consider, and it aids me in deciding whether to accept or decline a request.
- be open to saying "yes." Yes is sometimes the correct answer, and only you will know when this is the case. If you say yes after assessing the opportunity the client presents you, the client will be grateful! When you say yes, it makes the client's work a lot easier. Yes, can also help you develop your relationship with the client. The more work you complete on behalf of your client, the more valuable you become. You're familiar with the systems, people, and culture. These are all valid reasons to say yes.
Another good reason to say yes is to take on jobs that push your talents and comfort zones. “Would I like to do this job?”Ask yourself, remember" getting out of bed in the morning at an exam. "If so, the smartest business move you can make is to respond," We can do that!
- Be a problem-solver who also finds solutions. Clients hire us to assist them in resolving issues. The more issues we can assist them with, the better. This piece of advice falls between saying "yes" and saying "no," but it's worth debating. Our activities sometimes allow us to see items that can be beneficial to the client. Weigh these options and, if applicable, assist (or offer to assist) the client in solving the problem, even if they were unaware that one existed.
This advice begins before you begin looking for those issues. Being watchful and knowing the big picture of the client's business objectives are the first steps. Clients will be ecstatic if you can spot areas for improvement, especially if you have recommendations for how to enhance the problem.
- Maintain a safe distance. According to therapists, you can't help the family if you're a member of it. This is also true for us as consultants. The longer time we spend in an organization, the more important we become, but we must keep our roles inside the company clearly defined. Even as we cultivate the relationships that help us succeed, we must be vigilant in maintaining our distance so that we may continue to provide valuable counsel and knowledge.
To stay inside the role, refer to your contract. Allowing the client to know that you are concerned about the "distance" has proven to be beneficial. If you don't have these interactions, the customer may see your actions as a lack of interest in their company. Your efforts will be recognized for what they are once they comprehend your concerns about preserving this distance.
- Stay focused. Staying focused on your contract and delivering the best thing you can do to maintain and build your client relationships. Talk about what needs to be delivered and deadlines for customer meetings. Demonstrating that focus and delivering what we say when promised, builds our loyalty and improves our relationship.
We develop our reputation and strengthen our connections by demonstrating that focus and then delivering what we say when we say it.
- Be a lifelong learner. Learning entails being open to new techniques and ideas, as well as approaching each endeavor with fresh eyes. Few things will irritate a client more than your hasty solution, presuming that their problem is "exactly like" five others you've encountered. There are always subtle differences that make a difference. Take the time to learn more about them and how you might include them in your solution.
- Put in the effort. Recognize that maintaining a positive client relationship is an important aspect of your profession! Consider and work on the relationship to improve your current project's success, increase your chances for future work, and make the project more fun. Not only that, but you'll learn a lot from your client. Overall, you got a good return on your money.