7 Tips for Building Relationships with Clients That Last

Everything you need to know about creating strong client relationships—and how to make those relationships last.

It’s a well-known fact that long-term clients spend more over time, which can have a big impact on your bottom line. According to global management consulting firm Bain & Company, a 5% increase in customer retention can produce more than a 25% increase in profits. So if you want to build a small business that stands the test of time, you need to focus on building relationships with clients—and making those relationships long-lasting.

Like any relationship, if you want your relationships with customers to thrive, you need to put in time, work and effort. But what does that actually look like?

Here are our top tips for creating lasting, positive and mutually beneficial relationships with your clients:

1. Do the Work Up-front to Ensure Relationship Success

Building a lasting relationship with clients starts at the very beginning. If you want your client relationships to last, there are steps you need to take from the get-go to set the relationship up for success.

Some of the initial steps you’ll want to take include:

Get to Know Them

Every client has different needs, goals and preferences. So it’s important to take the time to get to know them before you start working on your first project. Try to find out:

Why are they looking to hire you? What are they hoping to get out of the relationship? What are their short- and long-term goals? What’s their preferred work style?

The more you know about each customer, the more you can cater your work style and services to them specifically—and the better the relationship will be as a result.

Establish Preferred Communication Channels

Again, every client has different preferences, including how they like to communicate. Some will prefer regular phone calls to get an update on the status of your project—while others would be irritated if you called them and interrupted their workday.

That’s why it’s so important to get on the same page as your clients in terms of their preferred communication channels. For example:

Do they want you to call them with project updates or do they prefer email? What’s the fastest way to reach them if you have a question or urgent matter that needs their attention? Do they prefer you to submit work via email, Google Drive or through a project management platform (like Trello or Asana)?

Taking the time to understand how your customer likes to communicate will start the relationship off on the right foot—which, in turn, can help you lay the foundation for a strong relationship.

Set Proper Expectations

In addition to laying the foundation for communication, it’s also important to set proper expectations with clients prior to working on your first projects.

Some expectations you’ll want to agree on before you start working together include:

Rates and pricing: It’s important to get on the same page about rates and pricing before getting started on your first project. That way, there are no surprises when you send your first invoice. Project timelines: It’s also important to discuss timelines for different types of work and expectations on timelines from both of your perspectives. So, for example, do you ask for at least two week’s lead time for any new projects?

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