Developing Trustworthy Client Relationships

Pinky PromiseTrust can be one of the hardest things to give and develop with a client.  Trust in your business relationships is integral if you wish to see your clientele numbers and your own company’s revenues grow.  The level of trust in your business relationships—especially client relationships—is a one of the greatest determinants of a business’ success.  Therefore,building your book of business is intrinsically tied to the trustworthy relationship you have with your clients and developing the long term relationships with them.

The Personal Touch – Consistent communication with clients, and building mutual trust and respect, often leads to repeat business for your company. Try to find ways to show clients how much they are valued, which contradicts the typical deli line “NEXT,” limited attention given to clientele by many business.  Equally as important to the attention you give them is setting reasonable and attainable goals centered on ways to solve their problems with your product or service.  Most client’s want you to set specific goals to be attained, reflecting that you are as equally invested in their success as you are in the ROI.  These  personal touches create brand loyalty with your clients and will cause them to stay with your company even if a competitor offers what appears to be a “better” deal.

Get in Their Head – Knowing your clients is just as important as servicing them.  Small talk during a business meeting is a great way to asses a business’s operational structure and culture, and this intel is critical to reflect your knowledge of their needs.  Gain respect and trust by sincerely asking clients what’s important to them and listening intently makes clients feel heard.  Try to elicit the critical issues that are most meaningful to the to them.  If appropriate, take a little time and diligence to discover not just the clients’ needs for your product of service, but also their personal hobbies, family dynamics and even biggest pet peeves to develop a more personalized relationship.  If they trust you with personal information, they will undoubtedly trust you with their business.

Make it Happen – Trust me, if you  don’t return phone calls in a timely manner, are consistently late for appointments or miss deadlines, it will be disastrous for both the relationship and your bottom line.  For example, when you give a client an expected date of completion – its simple, MEET IT!  Nothing is worse for a budding business relationship or repeat business than failing to meet deadlines.  To keep the fire smoldering and the business coming your way, give reasonable timetables for projects and deliverables.  If something unexpected does come up, make sure to communicate that with the client before the actual deadline date.  When it comes to this issue, it’s always better that you call them than they call you!

Earners Keepers/Lackeys Weepers – To keep your client’s trust and respect,  it must be maintained over time by doing the things you did to earn it in the first place.  You do not have to be perfect – just trustworthy in both words and actions ,and ensuring that they are complementary of one another. Trust can be easily earned by someone with upstanding character and integrity, but hard to dispense if you lack those critical qualities.

Crystal Clear – Transparency is critical to the provider/client relationship.   In this day when contracts with fine print have replaced the nobleman’s handshake, there’s a tremendous need for honesty and not camouflaging crucial facts.  If there’s some aspect of your product or service that a client wants, but you know you can’t provide, tell the truth.  There’s nothing wrong with stating that you can’t do something or haven’t yet developed a particular service or product.  You can still win them over or keep a current client happy by letting them know that you are innovative enough to work on a solution thereby reflecting your commitment to them and their business.

In Summary – Begin or continue earning your clients trust by giving them your best, proving your competency and following through with all commitments to show them you value their business and the relationship. Remember, word of mouth can be your best advertising or your worst adversary.  

Great Expectations

Charles Dickens was an Englishman, social critic and author of some of the world’s most well-known fiction stories and hailed as the greatest novelist of the Victorian period.  Great Expectations was set in 1812 and follows the life of Pip, an orphan child who is on an amazing journey of personal growth and character development to become a proper gentleman. Uh, Yvonne…What in the world does this have to do with the business industry?  Don’t give up on me yet… The original ending of the book was later revised based on another editorial critic who said that its predecessor was far too sad.  So with ego slightly bruised, Dickens rewrote it (Yeah, someone asked Charles Dickens to rewrite one of the most renowned literary pieces in history!) so that Pip marries Estella instead of the original ending which had them passing each other on the street with no apparent love or future in sight.  It was then hailed as one of the most brilliant stories and influential literary pieces to be held in ones hands before best-seller lists existed.

Fast forward to 2012. You’ve got this nice small/medium-sized business that’s been running pretty well for several years but with the current “recession” in full swing, you’ve hit a bit of a speed bump (or maybe several nails in 3 tires).  You’re sales are down and Abe Lincoln is the reflection of your ROI.  You drive to your office  wondering if sooner than later your doors will look like one of many that have “Now Leasing” over the door instead of your company sign above it.  So what’s a business owner to do when you feel like you can’t spare a nickel, let alone a check with more than (2) 0’s to boost your business and the bottom line?  Rethink and re-strategize.  Let’s learn from that earlier Dickens example.

Dickens’ Great Expectations

Business in Jeopardy

An established masterpiece of literature that already had a solid reputation & some notable success A well-established but slowly declining   business with a seemingly solid clientele but not producing an adequate profit   margin. Needing to resort to downsizing personnel, departments or “doing away with” vital parts of your business because of funding.
An outside critic thought he could make it better Believe it or not, an outside source sometimes can have the best perspective of what your business needs to survive.  Sometimes when we’re too close to it, we need a lens adjustment to see outside of what we have been doing and expand our perspective outside of “what we already know”.
Considered another outcome. The change embraced and   implemented helped the book become one of the greatest among classical literature and Dickens was hailed as a literary genius. Maybe it’s a website if you don’t have one.  Maybe it’s
rebranding and testing the market with a new look/feel for your online and print marketing materials.  Strategize as if it’s business warfare and the life of your business depends on it.  Most times how we start is not always how we finish and it’s ok to embrace that.  Oftentimes that is the sweetest success and thus the story of getting there!

Marketing Strategies bullseyeRethink and re-strategize to meet the goal(s) at hand! Don’t be afraid to shift the paradigm or how you think about your business and its road to success!

I’m sure Dickens didn’t expect anyone to come along and tweak his masterpiece but surprisingly, he was open to the idea that someone may just have a better way.  The Great Expectations Pip had, were constantly evolving with every ebb and flow of life and unforeseen circumstance.  For the sake of the novels success, Dickens was forced to consider the revision if he wanted to see Great Expectations become all that it deserved to be and that which he desired.

What are you willing to do to achieve the Great Expectations you have for your masterpiece?