29 September 2023 | 6 min read
Author: Norman Taylor, Consultant
As former Managing Director of Ruddle Wilkinson Architects during a period that saw the practice grow from 40 to 140 staff servicing a broad client base of blue-chip clients, Norman Taylor has the perfect experience to share his first-hand insights of securing, developing and nurturing long-standing client relationships.
The ability to maintain or – even better – enhance client relationships is an important skill.
And, as we all know, customer satisfaction is paramount for repeat business, referrals and client references. So, how do you ensure client happiness? Brilliant service and support are vital, of course, but that’s only half the story. Here are four rules that will serve you well:
Clients expect to be at the centre of your world, so the absolute golden rule is making them feel like they are your only client. Win their loyalty and you won’t have to worry about others poaching them.
MANAGING CLIENT RELATIONSHIPS
So, why do we sometimes neglect existing clients?
OK, but you can’t stretch yourself too thin either. So, how do you decide who your key clients are?
A mixture of these factors should help you identify, say, 20 key clients. My advice is to do what it takes to maintain or, even better, positively develop your relationship with them. That means keeping in regular contact with them and doing whatever you can to add value to them as individuals and their business.
A wise person once said: “Your billable time determines your income, but your non-billable time determines your future.” This begs the question: Are you spending your non-billable hours constructively?
It’s vital to fully understand your client and their business, how they work, their business drivers, their problems and how you can help. So, listen to your clients via structured discussions and a satisfaction feedback system so you can really get to know what they think.
If you think like your clients, you can think for them.
BE A DATING AGENCY
Clients, like professionals, need to meet peers to develop their businesses, understand the marketplace, spot potential partnerships, etc. So, introducing them to networking opportunities is a great idea. They may be looking for a new funder or lawyer. But remember, try to make the introduction relevant to their business.
ON WINNING NEW CLIENTS
Research by Interbrand shows that winning new clients is due to a combination of factors:
A FINAL THOUGHT
So, don’t just assume everything’s OK! Keep working on those key relationships. Make each client feel like they’re your only one.