Client relationship building is the lynchpin of business growth and sustenance. It is the harbinger of rewarding customer experiences, meaningful interactions, customer loyalty, brand credibility, and improved reputation. As such, it comes as no surprise that 73% of business leaders attribute client relationship management as a direct link to success.
What is Client Relationship Management?
Client relationship management entails various principles, practices, guidelines, and technologies used to engage and delight clients. Think of it as a blueprint of the Dos and Don’ts of how to manage client relationships effectively when you should interact with customers to achieve larger organizational goals.
10 client relationship management best practices to Follow
Here are a few noteworthy best practices for client relationship management that everyone, be it a Project manager or a customer success manager, should follow:
Get Your Clients to Participate
Involving clients at every step of the project development process is one of the best practices for client relationship management. It acts as a stage for the clients to voice their opinions and share their input.
Sprinkling these throughout ensures that you can act on their feedback immediately rather than reaching a point where you cannot honor them anymore.
Their involvement becomes all the more crucial at the goal-setting stage as it lays the foundation for success. Take this opportunity to truly understand what the client wants and expects from the project.
Capture their goals, aspirations, expectations, etc., to craft a practically realizable goal. Doing so ensures that you can deliver to this baseline.
Respect Their Time
Sure, you want to involve the client every step of the way. But that does not mean that you have to schedule hour-long meetings or run everything by them before waving the green flag. Overindulgence will not only cause their confidence to waver in you but will also be a waste of their time – both being equally detrimental to new clients and your brand.
There are several ways to respect your client’s time. You could assign a dedicated project manager who is a single-stop resource for everything related to the project to service requests promptly.
Similarly, you can build and disseminate contextual awareness of the customers so they do not have to repeat themselves or their concerns over and over again.
You could always show up on time (and that’s the bare minimum!). Value your customers’ time so that they can value you.
Active communication is a part of saving your customers’ time and building meaningful customer relationships with clients too. For starters, it involves proactive disclosure of information so that the client no longer has to waste time chasing it.
Say, for example, how eCommerce websites share routine order-related updates. Such constant and reliable communication makes information readily available and accessible.
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Staying in touch with your existing clients at all times also assuages any fear, concern, worry, or trepidation that they may have. As such, it promises customer retention by minimizing the possibility of a client fleeing to a competitor.
Connect Over Different Channels
Since we’re on the topic of communication, it bears mentioning that every exchange should take place across a bouquet of channels depending on the client’s likes and preferences.
Ideally, the communication stack should contain an array of synchronous and asynchronous forms of communication. Communication channels like phone calls, live chats, in-person meetings, etc., fit in the former category, while asynchronous communication involves emails, messaging, video recordings, etc.
Project management tools like Nifty offer a similar blend of communication channels so that you can have a one-stop app to communicate than disparate ones.
Build Personalized Relationships
The value of personalization can never be understated in relationship building. Personalization is one of the primary client relationship management best practices. It is also highly versatile, depending on the business’ technological maturity and data-harnessing availability.
For instance, personalization could be as simple as addressing the client by their name. Or it could be as complex as curating personalized client experiences based on their preferences and inspired by related customer cohorts.
Either way, it makes the client feel seen as an individual, which fosters a sense of loyalty. Lose this personalized touch, and it can cost you a whopping 62% of the client base!
Practice Knowledge Sharing
Knowledge sharing with prospective clients is as critical to operations as internal knowledge sharing. It instills confidence and brings all the stakeholders on the same page. It is even more appreciable in cases where the client does not possess the level of skill or expertise to understand the intricacies of their requirements.
Empowering, enabling, and assisting existing customers at this stage serves as a trust-building activity as it reflects on your domain authority and credibility. It also minimizes any possibility of miscommunication or misunderstanding as everything is openly discussed – right from any variations to the rationale behind it. As a result, a client is less likely to feel disgruntled from the outcomes.
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Keep an Open Mind
In order to build lasting customer and maintain positive client relationships, though, there are going to be moments when you will have to go the extra mile to please the clients. For example, you may have to squeeze in another feature on a tight deadline or throw something in gratis. Taking on such challenges can be tough, but not so much when you do it with an open mind.
Try to maintain objectivity and clarity of thought to accommodate such requests. That’s not to say that you become a doormat and accept anything the client throws at you. There are going to be moments when you will have to reject such requests as it may jeopardize future projects or projects.
The goal is to look at the larger picture – what is in the best interest of a project. Use that as a differentiator.
Transparency is a precursor to accountability, and both are the pillars of client relationship building. We’ve already covered a few facets of transparency viz client participation, active communication, and knowledge sharing. Each of these will shed light on the internal workings of the organization and the various teams and departments involved.
Businesses must embody transparency even when they make mistakes. After all, they are unavoidable to some degree. Even though it can be tempting to sweep it under the rug, practicing honesty and accepting accountability for any mishaps can help you build an authentic, long-lasting, personal connection.
One of the gravest mistakes that certain businesses make is that they get so swept up by the idea of taking on a project and winning over customers that they end up making tall promises and over-committing.
The result, in some cases, can be quite underwhelming. The contrary forms one of the best practices for client relationship management. Rather than overselling yourself, promise what is realistically possible.
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While you’re at it, identify what’s best for the project and try to go above and beyond – a nice little present for your customer’s trust. Even if such a surprise falls through, the customer was never expecting it in the first place. And in case everything goes right, the client will appreciate getting more than their money’s worth.
Obtain Feedback & Reviews
Client feedback and reviews are vital tools for assessing what went right (or wrong) in service delivery. Some may even contain valuable nuggets of information on how you can improve your product and services. Opening up this feedback channel not only allows them to feel heard but also demonstrates how much you value their viewpoint.
In addition to capturing such feedback, taking reparative action to amend commonly occurring mistakes and improving the client experience can allow you to build positive relationships and lasting customer relationships. Don’t forget to thank or reward the customers for their time and valuable opinions.
That’s a wrap on some of the best practices for client relationship management.
To reiterate, client relationship management is a two-person dance where businesses must keep to the beat and take the lead whenever the tempo begins to slide. Further, to enjoy the benefits of client retention and relationship-building, they need to leverage the right set of people, processes, and technologies to make it happen.
Tools like Nifty empower businesses to stay on top of their games – whether it is communicating information on time, involving stakeholders, or capturing feedback. Gain granular control of your project so that you can serve your clients better.
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What are the 4 strategies of relationship management?
The four strategies of client relationship management include:
- Retaining customers,
- Fostering loyalty,
- Maintaining profitability and
- Delivering satisfaction.
How do you effectively manage client relationships?
Some of the client relationship management best practices include:
- Active client participation
- Proactive client communication
- Diversity in communication
- Relationship personalization
- Knowledge sharing
- Staying open to ideas
- Delivering above expectations
- Setting realistic goals
- Capturing and acting on feedback
What makes a good client relationship manager?
A good client relationship manager knows how to imbibe the spirit of transparency, value-driven communication, and client involvement to identify what is best for the project at hand.