Have We Lost the Art of the Client Relationship?

5 Strategies to Improve Client Relationships in Business

 

The Art of the Relationship is Changing

Relationships are important – they are part of our everyday lives, and are necessary for emotional health. They come in many different forms: personal relationships (family, friends, neighbors, spouses or significant others) and professional (co-workers, supervisors, client or customer relationships). As time has progressed, however, those relationships have changed.

How often have your texted your spouse or children when you are in the same house? Do you email your colleagues rather than getting up and walking down the hall? Chances are, you are guilty of both of these things.  I am as well.

Client relationships are no different, regardless of the industry you are in.

The telephone, for years, has been any salesperson’s best friend. But slowly, over time, it has transitioned to email. The goal of getting out to visit clients and meet teams has been replaced with Skype and other methods of video conferences – and the occasional webinar. The personal interaction, the face to face meetings, the strong and loyal relationships (that differentiated the good sales people from the bad ones) are becoming a thing of the past.  Even customer service calls are being replaced with chatbots that perform almost as efficiently to resolve an issue as a human being.

Folks – This.Isn’t.A.Good.Thing.

Sure – our answers to minor details that once took a day or two to iron out are often immediate, but is it worth the absence of the personal touch?

This can pertain to relationships in a number of aspects.  In my article on Networking and How it Can Help You Find a Job, many of the same principles of personal interaction and continued contact with colleagues is a hallmark for creating sound networking relationships.  The key here is creating value.

 



Creating Value in the Crowd

I recently conducted a survey of recruiters in my network  – an industry known for deep client relationships and extensive telephone interaction. This was a group of in-house recruiters, third-party recruiters, and retained executive recruiters from all over the world. The response rate was immense – so THANK YOU to everyone that answered! The results were shockingly similar, regardless of geography, company size, and level of search conducted.

I offered an open-ended question – what can recruiters (or businesses in general) do to improve their process? The results I saw most often revolved around creating value for the service being provided.

How do you create value with your customers (or internal clients if you are an in-house recruiter)? Are you a necessary evil, or are you providing a superior service that saves your customers time, money, effort, or all three?

How do you communicate that value to your customers? Is it through email? A Skype meeting? A presentation deck that you send over?

I am not just talking about the ability to deliver candidates. This is critical, but not the main topic here.

Have you done something that does not involve technology to form a relationship with your client? How is it different from your competition?

 

Back to the Basics

 

Some of the basic rules of creating value to separate yourself from the rest go back to Marketing 101. The following is some food for thought, and a place for you to get started:

 

  • Increase YOUR contribution: when you provide a service for your client, go above and beyond. Whether that is the number of candidates you have promised, the time you take to provide those candidates, the steps in the process you can take over to alleviate your client’s burden. STOP SELLING – START HELPING!

 

  • Show your commitment: We have all had those impossible projects that we would like to throw the towel in on. Demonstrate that you are committed to helping your client until the project is complete. Whether that involves verbally reinforcing that you are in this together, or simply putting your money where your mouth is, show your client that you have committed yourself to their needs.

 

  • Customer Satisfaction: This one is simple, even though it can be the hardest to perform. Ask your client for feedback along the way and at the completion of the project. What were they pleased with? What could you have done better to make the process better? Use this information to improve your process.

 

  • Memorable Experience: Whether this is an extremely efficient process, or simply a hand-written card or small gift, do something unique and creative to create a memorable experience for your customer. You will be surprised what a small gesture can do to create a positive and memorable experience for your customer.  Employees love to be recognized, why wouldn’t a client?

 

In this day and age, it is easy for anyone to become tone deaf to the frequency of communication in business or in our personal lives. Making yourself or your service unique and memorable bring the personal touch back into your own process.

Creativity changes the playing field, and your clients will appreciate you for it!

What are you doing to create value for your customers? How do you set yourself apart?

I would love to hear from you! Please comment on my blog, or contact me directly at: natalie@resiliencegroup.net.

 

 

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by Natalie Lemons

Natalie Lemons is the President of the Resilience Group, LLC, and the author of The Resilient Recruiter. Please join her community for more articles like this, plus helpful free downloads for recruiters or those starting a Recruiting business.  Resilient Recruiter is an Amazon Associate.

 

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