Oh man, where do I start when it comes to client relationships? The relationships you create with your clients have the ability to really make or break the experience for both of you. As you become a more seasoned business owner, you’ll start to learn the ins and outs of managing your client relationships, but who’s got time for that?! I’m here today to give you a crash course in building healthy relationships that will make your projects run much more smoothly. AND, bonus, you’ll foster relationships that keep clients coming back for more and dishing out those referrals.
Pay attention to each of the forthcoming strategies because they will make your life so. much. better. Having a client conflict is no one’s idea of a good time, so it’s best to avoid it altogether.
Time is a precious resource for both you and your clients. It’s important to remember that not only your time is finite and fleeting. If you want to build healthy relationships with your clients, respecting their time is my number one strategy. And how can you do that? Well, I think the first way to do so is to make the time commitment for working with you very clear before any contracts are signed. This way, each client knows what to expect up front. They can then evaluate whether or not they’re ready for the commitment, and if they’re able to move forward.
And here’s the good news – if a prospective client decides that they can’t commit to the time you need, then you’ve avoided a potentially difficult client relationship! Not everyone will be for you, so being up front from the get-go is a great way to foster trust and connection.
I know you’ve probably heard that a phone call is better than an email, but I’m encouraging you to have an in-person meeting with your clients when possible. The more time you have with your clients in a face-to-face setting, the stronger your bond will grow. These types of meetings allow your clients to get more familiar with you and your working style as well.
Now, I know that it isn’t always possible to meet with your clients in person. Especially during COVID times, so I totally understand if it isn’t in the cards. Or, you might have clients that live in different locations throughout the country or even the world. The best way to get around this is to have a Zoom meeting! Zoom meetings are a great way to build up your client relationships without having to do any traveling.
Another fantastic benefit of Zoom is that you also have the option to record every client meeting that you have. Recorded meetings give you the freedom to put down the notebook and stay present while speaking with clients. You can really *listen* to what they’re saying instead of focusing on taking notes right away. Being present in your conversations will also make your relationship go much smoother and I encourage you to try it out!
I know you’ve probably heard this before, but always remember to underpromise and overdeliver with your clients. If you make this a habit, you’ll rarely put yourself in a situation where you disappoint. Instead, you’ll look like a rockstar to your clients because you exceeded their expectations.
The key is to KNOW what you can do, and then promise a little less. For example, if you know that you can finish their project in 2 weeks, tell your client that you’ll have the completed draft to them in 3. That way, when it pops into their inbox in less time than they thought, they’ll be thrilled. It’s a really quick way into your clients’ hearts and they’ll LOVE everything that you do for them.
Have you ever let something seemingly small turn into a much bigger problem that cost you a good client relationship? If you have, it’s time to realize that small problems should stay that way! Small. Not worth ruining a good thing over. If you’re honest with yourself, you know that burning a bridge is hardly ever worth it. And when you look back on the experience, you wish you’d handled it differently.
Try to keep this in mind when you’re navigating difficult waters with clients. Have a little grace and react in a way that adds positivity to the situation, not negativity. If you did something that the client isn’t happy with, apologize. Don’t make excuses! It’s a mature way to handle business, and will ultimately lead to a much better outcome.
Do you ever feel like you and your client are on completely different pages? Well, that’s because you probably are. The best solution I can give you is to have a goal setting session at the very beginning of your work together. Goal setting is great for establishing a scope of work, and it’ll bond you with your clients right from the start because you’re working toward shared outcomes. You’ll always be on the same page, and it’ll give you something to reference if a challenge arises later on. I would advise you to set your goals at the time of client onboarding so you have a clear path forward.
It takes time to build credibility, so don’t try to make it happen overnight. It’s okay if a client doesn’t fully trust you the first or second time you interact. There isn’t enough history there yet. You’ll get there, don’t worry.
Keep in mind that trust takes time to build, and it’s usually a slow and steady process. Be consistent and intentional with how you interact with your clients. Focus on slowly building credibility with every interaction you have. With this sort of conscious thought, you’ll eventually get to a place where you know without a doubt that your business is built on relationships filled with trust.
Boundaries are very, very important if you want to build healthy client relationships. It’s a recipe for disaster if your clients feel like they can overstep and become a part of your life whether it’s during business hours or not. Make it clear from the beginning what you find appropriate and what you don’t. Clearly communicate your project timeline, business hours, and how you prefer to be contacted. Spell it out right from the start! That way, there aren’t any miscommunications or failed expectations.
Soon, I’ll be sharing some additional strategies for setting healthy boundaries with clients. It’s seriously so vital to building a business with longevity. And, it’ll keep you from burning out after dealing with clients that don’t respect you back.
Keep an eye out for that post – it’s a lifesaver!
Until next time, friends.