How to build lasting relationships with clients

Clients are the bread and butter of most companies – they can make or break a company’s success. That’s why it’s so important for businesses to develop a reputation for great client relations (and live up to it!). Not only are your clients responsible for your bottom line, but they can also be a source of valuable networking opportunities, positive word-of-mouth marketing and even great feedback that can help you or your services improve. Here are some fail-proof ways you and your employees can develop lasting client relationships:

Open and consistent communication is perhaps the most important way to build a great client relationship from the outset. Clients don’t want to be left guessing what’s going on with their projects or find you difficult to get into contact with. It’s frustrating and can make them feel like their business isn’t as important to you as others. During your first meeting with clients, make sure you exchange business cards that provide several easy ways for them to get in touch with you. But you shouldn’t just let them contact you – keep them involved in the process by sending updates and asking for their opinions.

Be honest
Going along with communication, another way to build client relationships that last is by being completely honest. Being dishonest or disingenuous about the quality you can provide, how fast you can provide it or anything else is a sure way to push a client and their future business out the door. There’s something to be said for staying totally transparent during a working relationship, even if something isn’t quite right with the product or service you’re providing them.

If you’re consistently unable to deliver what you’ve promised your clients, your business will likely suffer. Don’t make promises you won’t be able to keep. In fact, a great way to build amazing relationships is to consistently over-deliver and exceed clients’ expectations. Look for small ways you can go above and beyond, like by tossing in freebie products or extra services.

Get a little personal
Many clients and customers would rather develop a friendly rapport with you than simply talk business all the time. During phone conversations and in-person meetings, ask clients some questions about themselves. Even simple questions like, “Any plans for the weekend?” or “How’s your family?” can seem personable while not getting too intimate. Then, if they tell you about their son’s soccer practice or a marathon they’re running this weekend, follow up on it the next time you ask.

Keep the relationship going
If you and your clients become very friendly over the course of your working relationship, don’t be afraid to continue that friendliness after their business has concluded. Send them handwritten thank you cards at the end of the project, and keep in touch on social media (LinkedIn is a great tool for this). Later, you can follow up with Christmas greetings or even birthday cards to stay in contact and continue the relationship.