Some professionals are wired for relationship management while others just think they are. Relationship management doesn’t end when a buyer becomes a client- that’s when it starts. Ideally a dedicated professional is the one that has spent time with the client understanding their needs and challenges. They likely have taken on a major role in assigning the appropriate product or service to alleviate troubles. If something that was promised goes wrong, clients look to the person that has made the promises to make it right. That’s where relationship management starts. Take responsibility for the delivery of your product and service and be the intermediary to ensure that you or your company holds up your end of the agreement to expectations.
Unfortunately, many professionals neglect relationship management. Typically this happens when they get a contract or have a long term client that they feel “can’t leave”. Never fall into this trap. Even a client under contract can start making a case for why they shouldn’t renew their agreement. Once a buyer becomes a client, their satisfaction is always going to be part of the job. Looking at it realistically, there is a vested interest in client retention so it should remain a top concern that a client remains a client.
So be proactive in relationship management. The first step is deal with any problem that comes up whether it’s your responsibility or not. Just being part of the organization puts you in a better position to solve the problem. Typically you can identify and expedite a problem much quicker than the client or a customer service professional unfamiliar with the company. Secondly, have a plan to check in with clients. Set a time to get their feedback on your product or service. What do they like? If one thing could be done better, what would it be? Get a sense of who is involved in their company and, make sure they know how to reach you in case of a problem. Simply showing concern is often greatly appreciated and knowing they have someone dedicated to helping them often eases a client’s mind about how well they are taken care of.
It’s always easier to keep a client rather than going out to find new ones to replace the lost account. Don’t neglect relationship management in an effort to find new business. One of the worst reputations a professional or their company can have is promising the sky to get the business and then letting clients down. Word like that travels fast and it will make getting future business challenging. The great thing about excellent client satisfaction is that it can generate new business on its own. People love valuable products and services and are often eager to refer others. While generating new business is always important, don’t let it undermine client satisfaction because excellent relationship management keeps the clients you have and often creates new ones through referrals.