Irrespective of what one does or sell, all small-business owners have one thing in common –the art of managing, maintaining and nurturing relationships.
This particular art is needed with partners, employees, competitors, but most importantly with clients. Client relationships are the fuel that successfully churns the wheels of any business. Be it sailing through challenging waters, or pushing the buck of deadlines, or simply keeping a smooth rolling of work and cash flow, it is a healthy and positive client relationship that helps in maintaining long-term growth.
But, let’s be realistic. Often, over commitment, lack of a balanced approach, constant fear of maximum profits and on-the-face materialistic attitude can put a real roadblock in nurturing these very relationships.
So, what must one do in order to ensure positive client relationships are cultivated and cherished? Read on...
- Encourage honest feedback
There are times when pile-on of miscommunication can put one’s client relationship under real scrutiny. Always encouraging, gracefully accepting constructive criticism of the client, and being brave enough to adopt the pointers your client suggests would help you to perform better.
- Listen to your clients
One can, at times extol more energy by continuously talking in a hope of finding more business. But, this doesn’t mean one should not listen. Not listening to a client or where he’s coming from and lacking the skills of thinking from a client’s perspective thwarts long-term business successes.
- Exhibit gratitude
One might have aced the art of mouthing catchphrases like, "thank you for your interest", "appreciate the promptness in your reply", and "yours truly” but genuinely investing in making the client feel valued is what matters.
- Valuing client service
Client relationships, like any other relationship, needs to be appreciated for their worth. A striking personal equation with the client, overlooking overtly nagging behaviour and staying at the top business solutions by constantly imparting the highest level of service can improve one’s value with the client.
- Personalise client interactions
When small business owners tend to see their clients as nothing but plain business opportunities, the abnormality of the relationship creeps in. Ideally, one must treat clients as preferences, cutting the feel of being ‘stranger’ as much as possible. Every time one has an opportunity for face-to-face interaction with the client, try and ask at least one question that is outside the boundary of business. It could be regarding anything – anniversary dates, vintage car, football preferences or favourite cuisines.
These habits may seem too overwhelming at first to change, but they surely can help fade the ‘bad client relationship’ phrase from your dictionary.
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