How To Build Great Relationships and Build Trust with Your Clients and Customers
Great relationships are the foundation of any business. Here's how to build them.
You cannot build a business without building great relationships - with partners, clients, or customers. Whether you're a freelancer, business development representative, or an owner attempting to scale their business through meaningful partnerships, you have to be able to network and connect with others. There is no shortcut to doing this. You may be naturally good with people, but even then you still have to put in the effort to help that relationship prosper.
As a marketing and business development representative and also currently as an account manager, I've had my fair share of building meaningful relationships. One article isn't going to magically make you a master at this. The only way to successfully achieve this is to do it. However, there are principles and wisdom to follow.
1. Be honest and transparent.
From onboarding to solving problems, be clear about expectations and action steps you are going to take for your clients. Don’t tell them what they want to hear, tell them what will benefit their business. Expectations are really key to a great relationship. Every time you have a meeting with a client or talk to a customer, communicate your action plan, next steps, and what can be expected from you.
2. Add personal touches.
If you’re primarily communicating through email and the phone, find ways to send a personal gift, write a handwritten note, talk about your families, and get to know the client. You don’t have to always talk about business. Holidays are great opportunities to send nice branded gifts. If they refer a friend to you, send a nice personal gift or write a note to say thank you. If there is an opportunity to show appreciation to the employees of a company you work with, capitalize on it.
3. Provide value and give them opportunities to succeed.
Give clients additional information, good reports, and advice. If you have an opportunity to refer someone to them, do so! Help them make money sometimes without anything in return. Business relationships I made always improved when I went the extra mile to make a referral to their business, or give them a call to them about something great that happened as a result of my efforts to help. If you make another good relationship that might be mutually beneficial, set up a meet and greet between them. Build bridges.
4. Offer exceptional customer service.
Return client phone calls and emails ASAP. Treat them as a priority. Nothing helps a relationship more than delivering more than is promised. Your customer service has to be spot on. You think this would be obvious, but it's amazing how many build relationships with another business and deliver subpar customer service, never get back to the client, or avoid them because of a potential problem. Doing these things only exacerbate existing problems and will result in the loss of the client. Sometimes you can be so focused on building additional relationships that you forget to attend to your exiting ones. You have to find the balance.
Take clients to lunch, go out for coffee, and call them just to chat. Conversation builds relationship and trust. It’s true in marriage and it’s true in business. You have to really be intentional with your schedule in order to deliver on this. But you'll have to make time if you want the relationship to last.
6. Deliver results!
Fulfill your promises. You have to deliver results to your clients. It’s the reason they signed the contract in the first place and is the basis of the relationship. Do whatever it takes. You have to be results driven in order to have a successful business. If you're taking someone out to lunch, talking to them often, delivering great customer service, and are providing extra opportunities for them BUT you're neglecting to deliver fresh leads, content, or whatever you're offering to the client, the clock is ticking on their departure.