5 ways to make your clients love you
Public Relations is all about communication and at the heart of communication is people. The values that underpin our relations with friends and colleagues should be the very same foundations that communication professionals base their client relationships on.
This is according to Candice Hellriegel, Account Director at Epic MSLGROUP, who says that building a solid relationship with a client creates a ‘win-win’ situation. “While it’s important to always be professional, the basis of any human relationship is trust, communication, respect, dedication and personalisation.”
A positive relationship with a client is beneficial for many reasons, says Hellriegel. “From an agency perspective, if a client is happy they are more likely to retain your services. In the event of budget restraints, the client may be more likely to look at readjusting the contract rather than simply cutting the budget entirely. In addition, making your clients happy opens up new business opportunities for the company as the client is more likely to recommend the agency to other businesses.”
Hellriegel provides the following guidelines on how communication agencies can make their clients love them:
1. Build trust: Show your client that you are invested in their success
Trust is the foundation for any prosperous relationship. By showing clients that you want the best for both them and their brand, they will learn to trust you to grow their brand.
Trust is about forming a partnership with your client and showing your client you’re 100% committed to their brand and its success. A good way to show this commitment is by taking the time to ensure you fully understand a brand’s offering, as well as its various stakeholders. This means continually being on the lookout for opportunities to build the brand, be it in the media or across other strategic marketing channels. It could also mean foreseeing a possible crisis and putting a reputation management plan in place so that the client is prepared in the event that the worst happens.
2. Communication: Keep clients updated
By having constant and open dialogue, communication professionals can better understand the client’s expectations. Giving the client regular feedback on any developments and campaign results also assists in building trust.
Take the time to clarify any questions with the client immediately rather than going ahead without clear guidance to avoid misunderstandings and multiple reverts. Effective communication creates the opportunity to openly discuss successes and failures, as well as to learn from them. By showing yopur client that you are delivering will make him or her aware of the important role you play in the company’s brand building efforts.
Communication between individuals can be described as rich or lean. Face-to-face meetings or a telephone call are considered rich channels and are best for messages with potentially unclear meanings. E-mails on the other hand are considered lean channels and are preferred for more routine messages. In successful relationships, communication professionals understand that both communication channels are necessary and know when and how to use them.
3. Respect: Meeting deadlines
Respectful interactions are honest, considerate and tactful. Meeting a deadline is the ultimate measurement of respect for your client’s time and is another sure way to build a solid relationship.
If possible, try to provide the work to your client before the deadline to show your strong time management skills. This will also give you and the client time to make changes if necessary. In the world of PR respect is essential when facing demanding interpersonal challenges.
4. Dedication: Going beyond the call of duty
In dedicated relationships, people are more open to new ideas. Showing initiative is an expression of a relationship where people are confident to take the lead and are happy to look for ways to continually learn and improve.
Being proactive when it comes to presenting creative ideas to your client, rather than simply waiting for instructions, shows the client that you’re always thinking of new ways to build awareness. Doing something out of scope of the contract is another way to show commitment. Going beyond what’s expected of you makes the client happy, as it’s a sign that you’re committed to your relationship.
5. Personalisation: Treating clients to lunch once in a while
Clients are people too. Relationships can be described as generally social or task-related, but they don’t have to be mutually exclusive.
Take time to treat your clients by taking them out for lunch to catch up outside the traditional working relationship. A casual environment can help set the scene to chat more openly about general interests and ultimately build a stronger bond.
“Some people do not take building relationships with their clients seriously enough. In the PR environment, it is essential to build positive and strong relationships with clients as this industry is service-orientated. The better the service, the more likely the working relationship will continue. Even if the client moves to another company, they will be more likely to bring you on,” concludes Hellriegel.