Being pleasant to work with, providing great service at dependable prices, and staying in consistent contact — all fairly obvious (and crucial!) components of good customer relations. But there are a few other, less obvious aspects of great client relationships that I have been thinking about lately, and each one can go a long way toward building lasting, positive relationships that will have clients sticking around for the long haul.
Give Back and Keep Your Clients in Mind
Donating to or volunteering with causes that matter to your clients — whether they are causes that are important within your industry, or more specifically things that matter to specific clients — is a great way to show clients that you appreciate them. Better yet, your community benefits as well. Making a donation in their name in lieu of a gift to mark an occasion, taking part in a charity walk or run, or volunteering at a benefit event that your client has organized are all acts that are sure to be appreciated. Engaging in the community in this way is one of the best parts of being a business owner!
Appreciate Your Brand Champions
Brand champions are those people who sing your praises from the rooftops. When you first start out, this is your mom, your best friend and, if you’re lucky, a couple of aligned businesses or organizations. Over time, you will see customers grow into brand champions — and this is truly a wonderful thing!
It’s crucial to know who your brand champions, whether you’re just starting out or you’re a seasoned veteran. They might be your vendors, or they might be your clients. Show them your appreciation! A card or gift at Christmas, or any other time of year that you want to show your appreciation; extending a discount to your top vendors; sending a gift card to a client who is an outspoken brand champion…these actions show that you notice and appreciate their support. Enthusiasm like theirs deserves a thank you!
Tweak Your Product Offering to the Needs of Your Clients
What do your clients really asking for? Has their market changed or clients shifted? What have they requested you offer more of? Take the time to listen to their comments and be attentive to their business requests at every opportunity. Most of the time, their need is something you already offer or can easily add to meet the demand. By matching your services with your client’s needs and letting them know how you can help, you help them meet a need in their business and save time looking for a new vendor.
I was in this exact situation when I noticed that my clients were asking for help with their LinkedIn frequently. For some time already, I had been offering LinkedIn services but it was not high on my radar so I rarely promoted them. Once I knew that it was something my customers needed more of, I created a special packages that bundled these services together (including LinkedIn profile optimization, updates and articles). Once I started talking about the packages, LinkedIn quickly became one of my biggest sellers.
Business, at its core, is all about relationships. Take the time to think about the relationships you have built or would like to strengthen. What can you do tomorrow, this week, this month to reach out and foster these relationships? You won’t be sorry you took the time!