All businesses need to develop strong client relationships to sustain themselves. It is an important part of building your reputation and growing your revenue. But many professional services firms often struggle to understand how to form rock-solid relationships.
What can professional services firms do to strengthen relationships with clients? While there isn’t any magic formula out there, there are certain steps that can help you gain trust and boost client loyalty.
Client Management: 7 Ways to Build Stronger Relationships
In this post, let’s discuss effective strategies you can employ to build longer lasting relationships with your clients.
1. Use an Effective CRM Software Solution
Customer relationship management (CRM) tools can capture minute personal details about your clients and prospects so that you can tailor your messaging to fit their needs, interests, and aspirations.
Most importantly, CRMs are your best bet for consistent follow-throughs. The number one cause for erosion of trust with a client is promising to follow-up with them by a certain date, and then forgetting to do so. CRMs like Daylite really shine here, by helping you keep track of all your commitments and sending you reminders periodically, so that nothing slips through the cracks.
For instance, most CRM systems like Daylite maintain records about special occasions like birthdays and anniversaries. These occasions can be turned into outreach opportunities.
By means of automatic reminders, your CRM programs alert you that an occasion is coming up. On cue, you can delight your customers by sending them warm wishes, discount coupons, or freebies. This way, your customers feel that you care for them and value them, which fosters stronger relationships. You can also show your customers that you care by remembering the little things about them, which can often result in getting more referrals and returning customers.
There are other benefits of using CRM programs as well.
You may have professionals who are doing everything they can to reach out to clients and engage them on a regular basis. But what happens when those professionals decide to leave your firm? There is a risk of losing the network they have built over the years.
An effective CRM software solution can help you store information related to your clients including past transactions, contact details, email exchanges, and more. Even when professionals leave, you can retain this information and access it easily.
Another benefit of using CRM programs is that you can take the stress out of repetitive tasks by setting up automated reminders for yourself. For example, CRM systems can remind you to send appointment reminders or ask for updated documents annually. This way, you can avoid missing important deadlines and stay up-to-date at all times.
With CRM platforms like Daylite, you can configure a system to send automated messages to yourself. It can go a long way in fostering stronger relationships with your clients, and improving productivity and efficiency with your staff.
2. Segment Your Email List
Sending mass emails is a common marketing strategy to reach out to a large number of clients at once. But there are a few problems with this strategy.
You may end up sending emails that aren’t relevant to your clients or have the wrong first names. In mass email campaigns, there is no element of personalization. What’s more pressing, is that you may send emails to those who you haven’t spoken to in months. Before even considering a mass email, ensure that you are keeping in touch regularly with your clients, and putting in the work to stay at the top of their minds. Whether that be phone calls, video calls, or a quick email, targeted emails are unlikely to be effective without an established relationship.
When you are confident that you have a receptive audience, then it’s a good idea to begin to segment your mailing list based on fixed criteria. This could include criteria like location, budget, services used, niche, and company size, etc. Thereafter, you can send personalized offers and content to each contact to make them feel special and get a better response from them.
Plus, segmenting is made easy with CRM tools like Daylite. With Daylite, you can filter by criteria like location and company size, as well as any new criteria that you create based on your company’s needs. You can start by adding a Category to contacts, such as “Warm Lead,” “Cold Lead,” or “Client,” and then specify further using Keywords like “VIP” for an especially important lead. You can also create Smart Lists of leads you haven’t followed up with in 14 days, or whichever time frame is relevant for your mass email.
What’s more, segmentation can also help you boost your sales, click-through rate, and open rate. That’s because you can send more targeted messages that are likely to resonate with your clients using email automation tools.
For instance, you can send a welcome or introductory email to your new clients, and send a customer appreciation email to your loyal customers at the same time.
Pro tip: It’s wise to clean your mailing list before segmenting it. That way, you can discard unresponsive contacts and identify high-potential contacts. After that, you can focus your efforts on nurturing the latter and getting the most bang for your marketing bucks.
3. Follow Up Regularly
Building strong relationships with your clients is a gradual process that requires consistent effort. Regular check-ins enable you to engage your clients and stay at the top of their minds.
Ensure that you never forget your periodic check-ins by utilizing CRM software. For example, the Tasks function in Daylite is indispensable in managing follow-ups. Daylite will remind you when they are due, show any overdue tasks, and automatically hide tasks once they’ve been completed. It is even possible to create a follow-up schedule, and link others to it. This way, you will always remember to touch base with your clients regularly throughout the year.
Keep in mind that following-up shouldn’t always be sales-oriented. Sure, you can tell them more about your services once in a while. But it can come across as pushy if you always send promotional content. It is often better to prioritize building a strong relationship, which may involve checking in every month to see how they are doing, or asking how you can assist in resolving any issues for them. These actions demonstrate that you see your clients as people and not just dollar signs. Only when you have a strong foundation do we encourage you to begin talking to them about new services you are offering, or opportunities to collaborate on projects together.
Furthermore send them content that adds value. This could include links to research studies, ebooks, infographics, and other valuable resources.
4. Educate Your Clients
Another way to reach out to your audience is by creating educational content on different social media platforms. You can try to simplify some technical procedures or break down complex topics into easily digestible videos or blog posts. What’s more, you can even create infographics that are informative.
Through this type of content marketing, you can increase your brand awareness and visibility. When you provide these resources to your existing clients for free, you can also boost your authority in the industry. Over time, you can become a trusted source of information since you send educational content without any vested interests.
For instance, if you run a financial advisory firm, you can break down the jargon and talk about the latest financial trends on your blog. Similarly, accounting firms can educate their clients about the best ways to save on taxes.
5. Be Generous
Firms that build strong relationships with their clients show that they care about them. One of the most effective ways to do this is to send them special discounts or gift packages on special days and events.
If you know that a particular company is celebrating their foundation day, send them a bouquet or a cake. A small gesture like this can go a long way in nurturing your relationship and boosting client loyalty. So, don’t be shy. Shower your clients with gifts and incentives once in a while.
CRMs can help facilitate this process. For instance, Daylite’s custom fields allow you to immediately jot down details that your clients reveal to you during calls or drop-ins, meaning that you can quickly refresh yourself on their favourite treats and potential allergies when putting together a gift basket. To keep track of when to send these little amenities, use the Smart List function in Daylite to keep track of upcoming birthdays, anniversaries, and other special occasions.
6. Ask For Feedback
To improve your client relationships, you need to invest time into reflecting upon how your relationships currently are.
Are your clients satisfied with your work? Are there any issues or unspoken concerns that they may have? Finding answers to these questions on your own can be tricky.
The best way to deal with this is to open a two-way communication channel with your clients. Ask them for feedback so you can know which areas you need to work upon. When you have this discussion, you give them a platform to air their grievances. This, in turn, can boost client satisfaction.
Ideally, you should ask for feedback from your clients annually. In some cases, this may be required more or less frequently.
The most important part is to take their feedback seriously and genuinely work on improving the client experience.
7. Ask and Thank your Clients for Referrals
Referrals are the easiest way to generate new business. What’s more, a referred client has a higher potential for loyalty and retention since they already have some degree of faith in your work.
Reach out to clients that you have been associated with for a long time or have given you positive feedback. As a general rule of thumb, focus on the strongest client relationships for getting referrals.
To encourage referrals, you can also provide them with special bonuses or incentives. From Amazon gift cards to discounts on invoices, you can offer incentives in multiple ways.
Pro Tip: Use specialized platforms to design effective referral programs for your professional services firm.
Ready to Strengthen Your Client Relationships?
Any business needs clients to survive. Building strong relationships with your clients is all about understanding their needs and communicating with them regularly.
Once in a while, surprising them with special gifts and incentives can also help you win some extra brownie points.
To iron out any concerns, ask your clients for feedback and invest time into fixing any issues. It can go a long way in boosting their satisfaction level and boosting loyalty. Lastly, ask for referrals from satisfied clients to grow your business.
Do you have any questions about managing your relationship with clients? Please feel free to add them in the comments section below.
About the author:
Shane Barker is a digital marketing consultant for 15 years with an emphasis on Influencer Marketing in the last 5 years. He is specialized in sales funnels, targeted traffic and website conversions. He has consulted with Fortune 500 companies, Influencers with digital products, and a number of A-List celebrities.