Fundamentally, customers are happy when a business partner satisfies both their needs and their expectations. But beyond that, these kind of relationships need special attention and care. Finding a balance between satisfying your customers, meeting their needs and keeping them happy is a crucial part of any company’s success.
Here are 7+1 tips on how to do that:
1. Provide the right solution for their problems and needs
This is a tricky thing to do. When clients want something, sometimes they don’t know that it’s not the right thing for them. Some of them want to materialise an idea just because someone else did it or simply because they have experienced a particular need. This could lead to half-baked product ideas.
As a manager/agency, it’s fundamental to understand not only what the clients want, but also what they need, and offer them the solution that is optimal for their situation. To do this, one should listen carefully, with an open mind to their vision and come up with such a solution.
It is further your job to explain thoroughly why this is the better choice so that clients will then feel that they are in good hands; the hands of someone who really cares about their business.
2. Excellent customer care
When you onboard a new client, you have to be consistent in everything you do. From keeping your promises to replying to their emails and messages in a timely manner. Answer promptly, or at mutually agreed intervals, be respectful and don’t take them for granted. Be mindful of their loyalty and reward it by treating them and their time with respect.
Moreso, remember that they are also human. If you see they are having a bad day, try to empathise. Be genuinely interested in their well-being and if you see something is wrong, ask them about it and ask if you can be of help in any way. Also, don’t forget to send them small tokens of appreciation when holidays or birthdays are close. As long as you don’t exaggerate, these small gifts are a smart idea. For a client, receiving this kind of attention is a warm reminder that you appreciate and value their business.
In an era where money is everything, genuinely caring about the wellbeing of your clients could make a crucial difference to your ability to retain them, and ingender real loyalty in the relationship.
3. Respond well to negative feedback
Most of the time getting negative feedback makes us feel uncomfortable and it’s difficult not to take it personal. When it comes to the work that you’ve done, it’s natural to feel offended when someone says it’s not done right or that they don’t like it.
Try to detach yourself from the context and see it as objectively as possible. Pretend the person isn’t talking about you and try to see their feedback as impartial as possible. Is this person right? What were their arguments? Where can I improve based on this feedback? These are the questions you should ask yourself in order to turn negative feedback into positive results.
Accept the fact that there is a problem and that your job is to fix it. Commit to responding with openness and willingness and if your client is mistaken, explain why, all the while trying to find common ground and stay clear of arguments. Put yourself in their shoes and understand where the feedback is coming from. Empathise with them. It will be easier for you to understand that their business is more important than your bruised ego.
4. Learn from your mistakes
We all make mistakes. Whether we like it or not it has happened to all of us and it will keep happening in the future. You know that and your client knows that.
If you made a mistake, the first step is to recognize you’re wrong. Accept the blame and recognize your wrongdoing. Taking responsibility for your own actions is not a sign of weakness. Don’t try to shift the blame but keep the focus on you. This is a sign of maturity and it takes a lot of self-awareness and courage to do so. Be sure that the client will appreciate you more and will see you as a trustworthy person.
The second step is to learn from your mistakes. The next time you are facing a similar problem, remember what went wrong. Analyse your mistakes objectively, see what are the reasons that led to these mistakes so you won’t repeat the same behavior over and over again.
Often, when we communicate with clients, we think that there’s a secret to how to do this. It’s pretty basic actually: be transparent and be predictable.
Be truthful and accurate with the information you are sharing with your clients, keep them up to date on changes happening to their project and, where relevant, on changes to your business in general.
Don’t try to impress them with “surprises” such as spending half a week on developing some feature that they didn’t ask for nor do they really need just because you think they are going to love it. People’s reactions to surprises are generally negative and especially when it comes to business. Clients appreciate more a consistent partner than one with ups and downs.
Be a little bit boring and meet their expectations. Don’t wait until the last minute to tell them something is wrong. This only leads to unnecessary tension. Instead, be transparent and tell your clients whenever you and your team encounter a problem so that they know what to expect. It will also make them trust you more because it gives a sense of control over the work that you and your team are doing.
6. Be flexible
When you work with a client for a long time a relationship of trust is already created. Don’t nickel and dime your client for every little thing because it looks like you are in the business only for the money. Keeping track of every dollar that’s coming from your clients creates a toxic relationship with them and can have a negative impact on your future ones. Don’t put your company’s public image at risk for a few bucks.
At the same time, it’s important that you don’t get taken advantage of. The key is to find a balance between billing your client and fulfilling some small tasks for free. For example, changing a powerpoint slide once in awhile doesn’t require extra money. Having to change that slide every other day for a month because your client can’t make up his mind is a different story.
Find a balance between doing the occasional complementary fixes and charging for extra features. Set limits to how far you are willing to go in accepting small extra requirements and charging extra from your clients.
7. Underpromise and overdeliver
A healthy relationship, of any kind, is based on trust. In business relationships it is even more important because it can make or break a company. While delivering fast and to a high standard is very important, living up to your commitments has never been so valuable.
When starting a project it is important to be aware of your strengths and weaknesses. This will help to avoid making promises you know you can’t keep. Instead, where possible, try to underpromise. Try your best to deliver the product that your client needs and do it on time. Don’t see this as a weakness, but as an opportunity to surprise your clients in the best way possible. Doing your best will eventually lead to a great product that will satisfy your clients.
When you deliver better than expected or promised, clients gain more confidence and trust. This further translates into additional work and into great word of mouth, which is truly the best marketing one can wish for.
7 + 1. Deliver realistic estimates
In order to be able to overdeliver you have to set realistic estimates to begin with. Often projects start on the wrong foot because you are tempted to give overly optimistic budget estimates in order to get the client. This creates expectations that are not going to be fulfilled and delays that lead clients to lose trust and interest in your business.
We found that clients are more likely to get along with a realistic project plan and budget if they gain a good understanding of what happens under the hood. That’s why we created SuperOkay. It saves you a lot of time, helps you win more projects and keeps your clients happy.
Plan smarter and deliver better!
Are you already using a Client Portal? SuperOkay gives you 1 client portal free forever to start creating professional-looking Client Portals, custom branded to your clients’ brands – Start today by clicking here!
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