The quality of client relationships is often seen as the most important aspect of running any business, but why is that so? What do clients value?
Building and maintaining quality relationships with clients is one of the things we at Bray Leino Learning pride ourselves on.
Delivering a contract to a high standard is great – but it’s not enough. In our experience, it’s those strong relationships that allow a project to run smoothly, even when things go wrong.
The growing business trend for in-house consultancy and internal business partners means that effectively managing these relationships is an increasingly important skill across many roles; for instance, HR Business Partners, Finance Business Partners and L&D Partners are all now expected to manage an internal ‘client’ base.
These are the five key relationship principles that we ask our own people to live by:
1. Get to know what makes them ‘tick’
Spend time at the beginning of the relationship to find out who they are as people as well as understanding their work role. How do they like to work? What drives them at work? What irritates them? The more time you spend on getting to know your client, the more you can match their way of working and the better the relationship will be.
2. Keep in touch
Communicate, communicate, communicate! Even when nothing is happening. There is nothing worse than silence - you must keep your client informed at all times. Make a note in your diary to contact your client at least once a week. Make yourself as available as possible and if you are not around have a back-up person while you’re away. Clients like to feel they can get the answer they need, whenever they need it.
3. Be responsive but also be proactive
Be responsive to your client’s needs, but also try to pre-empt what they may need so you can offer creative suggestions. This should be a partnership where you work together - you’re not just a supplier following client directions. Show that you’re passionate about their business by thinking about them and coming up with new ideas so you’re ready to provide insightful advice when they need it.
4. Meet deadlines
Make sure that when you commit to a deadline that you will meet it. Nothing winds clients up as much as waiting around for a response! Make sure you estimate your deadlines realistically.
5. Nurture the relationship
This is a continuous process, very much like nurturing a growing plant. Tend it carefully, look after it and it will last for years. Your most important objective in this is to help your client be successful and efficient in their role - if they look good, you look good! Help them in any way you can and go the extra mile wherever possible - it will pay dividends later on when the next piece of work comes up.
Diane McMahon, Client Services Manager
In my series of blogs I’ll talk through my experiences, lessons learnt, tips for success and general musings.
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