Improving the Client Experience
Clients quickly learn, there's a of difference between good and great.
But how do you create the policies and procedures to go that extra step?
Listen to your stakeholdersConstant communication between yourself and your client is key to ensure effective and efficient progress as your business relationship grows. Once the connection is initiated, don’t just wait for the client to reach out to you with their needs. Contact them first, and offer suggestions based on their specific situation as how your service can prove beneficial. Answer their questions with thoroughness and multiple options to give them the freedom and respect of deciding how to proceed, all while providing your recommendations as well. Keep the ball bouncing between business and client, but if the client takes a while to respond, reach back out in a kind and reminding manner to reignite the conversation. Be sure to list your stakeholders, whether that be employees, vendors, owners, or clients. Do you give them a way to give feedback and voice opinions? A strong sense of communication is one that exchanges often.
Consistency, Onboarding, Review, and ExperienceThe best way to not only measure progress, but to show your business’s prospects with them is through an organized client outline. Start with the ultimate goal you wish to achieve, map out the proper steps to reach this goal, and fill out any other details necessary for accomplishing these steps. You should divide this into a three-step plan, that can all be fit on one page so as not to overwhelm the client. Deadlines or ideal dates can be set to help keep the project going in a timely manner. Establish billing, points of contact and determine if you should have an annual or bi-annual contract. Assure that you have consistent standards and metrics for client onboarding, Service Level Agreements (SLA), correctly trained employees, quality assurance, and an appropriate cost analysis for raw materials or labor required for the service. Standard Operating Procedures (SOP) regarding clients is vital to making sure both your team and your client are on the same page as your relationship grows and the plan is carried out.
Show AppreciationYou’re thankful for the business your client has provided you and should show such appreciation to them on a regular basis. Always thank them for their time whenever contact is made. Thank them for any documents that need to be filled out on their end, and sub sequentially thank them for providing anything that needs to be done on yours. If criticism is given to you, even if non-constructive, be sure to thank them for their feedback, and how your team going forward can implement their suggestions. This all applies whether communication is written or verbal. Showing constant gratitude demonstrates the value you put into the client’s presence, and helps foster the business relationship for potential word-of-mouth leads for more clients.
Be Responsive and Aware of SensitivitiesDo you conduct sensitivity training to the appropriate people? There should be a clear format of sensitivity training for the three major roles in business relations. Employees, clients, and vendors. It is essential to established workplace sensitivity training for employees, as this is where all the business is carried out. This covers legal workplace protections that all employees should be conscious of and capable of exercising when communicating with vendors or clients. Not only is this important for maintaining a pristine and amicable relationship with vendors and clients, but will protect the company in the cases of possible liabilities or legal actions taken against any detrimental actions
Prepare Your Employees to Be ProactiveConstant communication internally is also important to ensure that everyone in your team is on board with the details of the client. Share the client outline with every relevant team member so that responsibilities can be divvied out, and so that each team member can visualize the progression with the business goal. Any updates on the project should be shared with every team member so that no one looks unprepared when communicating with the client. Be proactive; anticipate any client needs, even if they don’t realize it yet. For example, keep your finger on the pulse of industry trends and inform them of any insight that could prove useful. Are any products or services no longer as popular as they used to be? Have they grown in popularity, or still have the expected profit margins? Be a leader, not a follower. Even sharing the general basics with other employees not on the team can be vital if someone needs to step in for a sudden or unexpected absence.
Establish a Personal RelationshipShow the client that you care about them beyond what is laid out in the contract. Take time to ask and learn about the clients’ personal lives and find some common ground to speak on these matters. Ask about their family, wish them well during the holidays, comment on the weather, or ask about the city they work in to establish a common repour and relaxed tone. Discuss any specific access or accommodations that the client may require if they have any special needs. If there’s someone leading the project in your business, suggest they offer their personal cell phone number to the client in case they want to contact after business hours. The personal touches will go a long way when it comes to growing a strong business relationship and may lead to them recommending your company for their business associates.
Be Responsible with Company Growth and Focus on Core BeliefsSome companies lose focus when they go from one business to something that may not be related, or operate in a different manner. Businesses that might seem similar, aren’t always run the same way. For instance, a cruise ship and hotel may seem alike in industry and service, but are organized completely differently. Make sure that employees and management are reminded of this, and to stick to core beliefs especially when handling company growth. Be responsible when it comes to the expansion of your company, don’t grow faster than what can be handled. This is often the downfall of companies that have found new success and development. Be sure not to over extend the potential of the business in either financial or staffing. Remember that new hires take time to be brought up to speed, and they too need to focus on training and adopting the core beliefs and company standards. It is key to remember that if your company is in good shape, your clients will be as well. With these steps, the relationship between your company and your client will be a long-lasting and successful one. A business relationship is just like any other, and takes time, consistency, and effort to last.
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