How to Build the Best Relationships with Your Clients

No matter what line of work you’re
in, you do your work
for someone.
Usually, that someone is a customer or a client. And in almost every career,
that customer or client has the ability to fire you, walk away, or warn others
away from your services. That makes client relationships nearly as important as
the job you actually do. A miscommunication or customer service mistake can
translate to a poor review even if you do the actual work perfectly, so –
despite all those cranky savants in the movies – you can’t be the most
successful at something if you aren’t easy to for clients to approach and work with.
Delivering a great client experience
means doing good work, of course, but that’s not all it means. There are smart
strategies you can use to encourage clients to view your relationship in a
healthy way.
over style
So how do you build the best
relationships with your clients? You do everything you know you should: respond
quickly to queries, be polite, etc. Let’s get this out of the way, first:
there’s no substitute for good work. Customer service is key. So is quality in
your products – whether they be
or children’s toys – and services, whether you’re offering legal representation
or a good massage.
But that’s not the whole equation:
you also have to encourage your clients to see your business relationship as
the success that it is, and that’s as much about branding and positioning as it
is about service with a smile.

Tailored solutions
Positioning is, in some ways, an
extension of the “substance” argument. No matter how good you are at something,
you need customers to want it. You can’t hope for customers to tailor
themselves around you, so show them instead that you’ve tailored your services
to them. When you see
a law office advertised in Spanish, you’re seeing positioning: an organization is telling
clients that it offers not just a certain type of service, but a certain type of service designed
specifically for them.
before you meet them
There’s no substitute for great
service, but there are supplements to it. Walk into a run-down business and you
may be pleasantly surprised by great service, but you won’t necessarily walk
away with a purely positive memory of the experience. Great client relationships
start with expectations and presentation.
That means smart advertising and
branding. If you have a portfolio – as writers, photographers, designers, and
many other professionals should –
display it through a quality service or on your own website in a way that encourages customers
to go in expecting professionalism and courtesy. Design your company’s website
to suit the mood you want your customers to expect or seek out: professionalism
for a law office, fun for a party planning service, relaxation for a spa.
power of peers
Imagine this: a customer has a great
experience at a shop and logs on to record that experience on Yelp. But on
Yelp, they find nothing but terrible reviews. Are they sure they even went to
the same shop? Is it worth voicing an opinion that is so clearly in the
minority? Pretty soon, that happy customer decides making a Yelp account to
help this failing business isn’t worth it.

absolutely happens, just as it happens when people discuss movies or
politicians: if there’s only one person in the conversation with a certain
view, it gets drowned out. Make this work to your advantage by showing your
customers positive reviews of your business. Include testimonials on your
website and in brochures. Go to any handyman or
plumber’s website and you’ll see it: links to Angie’s List and to
positive media coverage. Lawyers can do the same with client testimonials.
Restaurants can link to Yelp reviews. When you share positive reviews in your
marketing materials, you’ll get clients who are mentally prepared to be
impressed with your service. That kind of mental edge is no substitute for
great service, but it is one of the strategies smart businesses use to give
themselves every chance to impress their clients.

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