Repeat clients are the backbone of any business, and clients are more likely to return if you do a great job the first time around. It sounds simple, but it’s one of those things that so many businesses fail to do.
You’re going to have to work with a wide variety of clients. Some are friendly and easy to deal with. But even if you’ve got the best client filter, some of those demanding and difficult ones are going to get through.
While it’s not important that your team likes every client; what’s important is that your team knows how to manage the different types..
Here are a few ways to increase you and your team’s client management skills to create happy clients and increase retention.
1) Improve your project management
Project management has the ability to make or break an entire project. Whether it’s you or an employee in the PM role, it’s important to give them access to training so they can upskill.
It blows my mind how many businesses I’ve spoken to where they simply go about their work almost closed off from the outside world, never improving. Some think that you can just hire a project manager, as if they’ll slot perfectly into your team and solve all your management problems.
In reality, that is super rare.
Try to create a culture of continuous improvement. Encourage your team to learn new things by following relevant blogs or taking courses.
Then it’s just a matter of letting them put what they’ve learned into practice, understanding that mistakes will sometimes be made. As long as your team learn from that, then you’ll be better off.
2) Better communication
Communication is another major area that can make or break a project. Good communication creates happy clients. Bad communication can completely destroy client relationships.
One of the biggest complaints I hear about agencies and even businesses in general is that they take too long to reply to their emails or worse, never get back to them at all.
Given that it’s such a basic part of running a business, you think people would be better at it.
This makes communication such an easy way for you to stand out in the market.
There are two parts to that.
- Inbound communication. Make it easy for your clients to access you. If you don’t want to take phone calls, that’s fine. Just make sure you have someone that gets back to them by email quickly.
- Outbound communication. Keep clients informed. They need to know what is going on. If you don’t email them for a couple of weeks, they’ll start to wonder what they are paying you for. Tell them about successes, essential changes, or setbacks, If your team needs extra time or resources to complete the project, the sooner you tell them the better.
One of the simplest ways to improve client communication is to send a weekly email every Friday with 3 things.
- What was done this week
- What will be done next week
- What you need from them
This makes clients feel like they’re taken care of, constantly in the know, and always on the same wavelength as your entire team. Better yet, good communication even helps in sales.
Always remember that your clients are busy too, so they will sometimes forget to get back to you. If you have a good follow-up system in place, that shouldn’t be an issue though.
Finally, like project management, there is a lot to be said for ongoing learning and training for communication. Much of this comes down to company culture. If you’re open with your team, encourage them to speak up when they are having difficulty with something and champion client communication, you’ll make clients happier.
3) Make everything easy for your clients
Go to any business Facebook community and you’ll find people complaining about some of their clients. They might be taking too long to get back to them, asking “silly” questions or avoiding using the business’ processes.
While there are some bad eggs out there, for the most part, people aren’t all that bad. Most of the time these situations are a symptom of a bigger problem: that things are just too difficult for your client.
Everybody is so busy all the time these days. That result is that difficult things tend to get put off. Easy things get done.
If you make the process easy for your clients, then you’ll get what you need faster.
One of my favorite examples is when a company asks a client to log into their project management system to follow progress, or to answer queries.
Your clients are way too busy to learn yet another system. If they aren’t technical they’ll forget their password in the first 6 minutes. In the end they just won’t bother logging in at all. You can’t blame them for this.
I saw this first hand with our software Content Snare. It’s a platform where you can create a client portal for your clients to answer questions and upload files.
We used to receive feedback that the end-clients weren’t sure how to use it. The result was that they didn’t use it. That’s a big problem for a company that relies on people using their system.
A huge interface change was planned, where every little detail was designed to make things as easy as possible for those end-clients. The difference was astronomical. Overnight, we went from complaints to feedback like “even my non-technical clients love this!”.
After this, the business began to grow much faster and it formed a huge lesson.
In short, keeping things simple for your clients makes them happy, makes them feel more relaxed and makes it much easier for them to refer other people your way later.
Think about every little thing that you ask clients to do throughout the process and try to make them easier.
4) Create content & training
Sometimes clients will ask you the same questions.
WIth the simplicity of blogging and video recording these days, it takes very little time to convert those questions into posts or small videos.
Not only will these make you look more professional, they are a quick way to get clients off your back so you can get back to work.
Consider creating a process that if you hear the same question from a client more than twice, you’ll create a resource for it on your site.
Taking this a step further, you could create entire training libraries that you give to the client when you handover the final project. For example if you build websites, you might include some video training on how to use their website. This can be a nice surprise that goes a long way to delighting your clients.
While clients can seem like a pain at times, often it’s a reflection of poor process or communication in your own business. Spend some time on these 4 areas and you’ll create happier clients, retain them and create advocates that refer business to you at every opportunity.
“James Rose is the co-founder of Content Snare. Content Snare helps you collect content and files from clients on time without email by using automated client reminders. Visit Content Snare for details.”