Client loyalty: encouraging long-term client-loveby Sarah Ritchie on 10/09/2012
Unless you are fortunate enough to negotiate your business relationships to a contractual level, most of our client relationships remain precariously balanced.
We work in a world where oft times you are only as good as your last job, campaign idea or coffee served. We strive to keep our clients floating in a state of blissful nirvana, while we look forward to our reward of payment for services rendered, a pat on the back at Christmas, and that much sought-after commodity – “client loyalty”.
Client loyalty is one of the keys that will make or break the financial success of every player in the design game – from freelancers through to agencies.
You’re confident that you’ve done all that’s necessary to keep your clients happy. Your client service team is still smiling, you are producing kick-ass creative, you can prove ROI with a mile of stats, budgets are met and jobs are delivered on time. That’s fantastic! You are well on your way there, but your clients desire more. They crave the intangibles…the extras…the icing on the heart-shaped WIP meeting cupcake.
With an endless stream of competitors nipping at your heels, how do you keep the love-fest fires burning? Here are 15 tips on how to create client relationships that last.
- Give more than you get. So, you didn’t get thanked for the amazing work you just created? No matter. Continue working as if you did.
- Up your game. Keep improving in all areas. If you don’t, someone else will.
- Make your client’s life easier. Think on their behalf – they will love you for it.
- Keep internal errors from escaping. Do your utmost to prevent internal errors from reaching your client; otherwise your client may tire of reminding you how to do your job.
- Become indispensable. You know you are in a good position when you know your client’s business better than they do.
- Be nice. People like to deal with nice people.
- Drop the inflated ego. No client likes to work with someone who’s head is bigger than their own.
- Bite your tongue. Maintain a professional attitude no matter what. Remember, a client can have a bad day, just like you.
- Nurture your client relationships. How would you feel if you didn’t hear from your loved one for one week? One month? Six months? Keep the touch-points flowing regularly.
- Beware the quiet times. It’s easy to share the love during a campaign, but keep up the contact during the quiet times too, when your client may well be courted by one of your hungry(er) competitors.
- To give or not to give? Gifts (or bribes) won’t inspire loyalty, but a client would still appreciate knowing that your relationship isn’t only about the dollars.
- Deal with complaints quickly. If a client complains, they are giving you a chance to rectify the situation and improve for next time. Admit when you’re wrong and act quickly…to ensure there IS a next time.
- It’s a whole-team effort. Think about how your accountant handles an invoice query, or how clean your bathroom is when your client visits. You can make or break long-term love by a build-up of the smallest things.
- Clients are people too. Treat them how you would like to be treated. Simple, yes?
- Do more than you were hired for. Be knowledgeable, proactive and helpful. Think outside the brief for a fresh approach. Ask insightful questions. Stay ahead of your game, your client’s game…and your competitor’s game.
When the next ardent suitor calls your client, you want their loyal answer to be “Thank you, but we are very happy with our current supplier”. How do you think your client would respond to such a call right now? Have you become complacent?
What are some other ways you could encourage a long-term client relationship of loyal-unto-death proportions?