Building Lasting Client Relationships
By Drue Lawlor, FASID
Director of Coaching, Gail Doby Coaching & Consulting
Developing a relationship with an ideal client takes time and effort so why wouldn’t you want to continue that relationship long after the project is completed. When you find those ideal clients, you not only want to keep them, but you want them to refer other ideal clients to you.
Be organized. Have an agenda ready for every meeting and at the end of every client meeting, always make clear what the next step will be.
Truly listen. The art of listening is key, and it’s helpful to be sure you instill the importance of listening in your team members also. Each time you and/or your team meets or talks with the client, be sure you are listening not only to their needs and wants but also little things, like their love of coffee, wine, cheese, gardening, etc. Then be sure to keep that information in their file and use it to send little gifts during the the project – even if it’s just a “enjoy a relaxing cup of coffee”, or “thought you’d enjoy this book we found on English gardens”, etc. You are showing just how much you listen.
Communicate regularly and respond promptly. That does not mean that you are necessarily in daily contact and/or are available 24/7. You set the parameters in your client onboarding process and then be sure you stick to them. Include in your onboarding materials questions as to how they would prefer you communicate – via email, phone, text, etc. Include policies as to how often your office will communicate – for instance, you may promise that someone from your team will update them every Friday or whatever – and then be sure it’s something your team will stick with – without fail. And when you are in the midst of the project, I would send an additional short communication each week also. Remember it’s one of a number of jobs you are running, but for them it’s the only one! If you promise that someone on your team will respond to their calls/emails/texts before the end of the business day, within 24 hours, or whatever you have set – then be sure you or a team member always does what you have promised.
Create positive memories of their experience of doing business with you. I have close friends, both retired successful professionals, to whom I referred another good friend, an outstanding designer who is also a Gail Doby/DSU client. They are currently in the midst of the project and every time my friend and I talk – and it’s quite often – she shares additional reasons she and her husband are so impressed with my friend the designer. In fact the other day she said they are now so spoiled that they expect every other person with whom they do business to be as professional as their designer. Quite a running testimonial!
Go the extra mile to make that original “investment” in the relationship and the long term ROI (return on investment) will definitely be worth it.