Developing a healthy client relationship is vital to your success, but it’s often easier said than done. In order to accurately address their concerns and create a channel for open communication, you have to have a strong foundation of trust and shared goals. How do you get to that point? Here’s our take on becoming a better partner for your clients:
1. Set accurate expectations.
One of the biggest mistakes we can make with clients is setting incorrect expectations. Now, it’s no secret that sometimes these conversations can be uncomfortable—no one wants to tell a client that their three-week timeline is unreasonable. But when you choose to set the right expectations from day one, you avoid an even more awkward future conversation when things don’t go according to plan. At the end of the day, a good client will appreciate your transparency.
2. Talk less, listen more.
It’s easy to fall into a trap of trying to explain everything to our clients. And while education and transparency are crucial, it’s more valuable to focus on listening first. Find ways to ask meaningful questions like:
- What would success on this project look like to you?
- What’s your biggest worry about this project?
- Are there any internal deadlines or priorities that could affect this project?
- What helps projects go smoothly for your team?
The more you ask and the more you listen, the more you can uncover hidden insights that can create a successful partnership. Remember, it’s about being present. Shared Michael Mathieu, C.E.O. of BeAlive Media, “when you have a conversation with somebody, you’re not going to get the nuances of the conversation if you’re doing too many things…If somebody picks up the phone, stop your email, stop what you’re doing, listen and have that conversation with the person and then move on. Most people can’t multitask without losing something in each of those tasks.”
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3. Adapt to their preferred working style.
Everyone has a different communication style. Some like to have quick in-person meetings, while others prefer a detailed email. Though you may already have internal processes in place for your team, there are ways to adapt to meet the preferences of a client. In the long run, it often benefits the relationship. For example, a client who prefers quick email re-caps and communication may get annoyed by hour-long presentations and check out of the project altogether.
4. Understand internal pressure on your client.
Just as you face pressure from your manager or your client, your client faces their own internal stressors. Sometimes, they’re up against a quick launch date or a leadership team that struggles to make decisions. No matter the concern, you’ll have a better understanding of your client’s priorities if you know what “keeps them up at night.”
5. Create space for back-and-forth feedback.
Feedback should be a two-way street. Set the expectation early that it’s important to deliver clear and honest feedback—both ways—to execute a successful project. In some cases, you may need to create an environment for feedback. “Post mortem” meetings after a specific phase of a project can be a great way to synthesize feelings from all team members on how the project is going, and what can be improved. If a physical meeting isn’t possible, even a simple email during the project asking how you’re doing can make all the difference.
6. Develop a resource library for all clients.
Your clients need resources, too! Concorde Investment Services helps its financial professionals support their clients by providing a Client Hub. This hub contains FAQs, helpful articles, and quick guides that may be of use to clients. You may even consider creating a “Trend Hub” for clients where they can quickly scan the most recent trends that are informing your work. No matter how you do, remember that clients may find use in a couple of extra resources throughout your partnership.