Client satisfaction is a buzz term that is getting a lot of attention today. As service providers, we all strive to do our best -- keeping our promises to our clients and ensuring high quality and valuable service is provided at all times. In many cases, measuring success is a difficult task and understanding a client's expectations is even harder to glean.
With competition for clients much tougher these days, keeping happy clients, and getting repeat business from them is the ultimate measure of success. Here are a few tips for creating long-term healthy relationships with your clients that will have them coming back for more:
When communicating your solutions to your client don't over promise. Be sure to set expectations that you know you can exceed. By setting the bar low you leave your company room to dazzle them with extra services that are of little cost to you but add a great deal of value to the solution. Look for ways to give the extras that mean a lot and differentiate your service from the rest.
Look for New Ways to Help their Business
Clients have many problems that need to be solved and just because something is not in your specialty area doesn't mean you can't help. Your clients have the same concerns and focus that you do - getting new business, operating more profitably, and keeping clients happy. Look for ways that you can help them win more business and differentiate themselves to their clients. If you observe inconsistencies in their business processes, try to hep them solve them by referring them to other service providers that can help them. Clients will be grateful when they realize you are genuinely interested in their entire business and not just the part that you make money from.
Run Great Meetings
The number one reason that projects go over budget is too many unplanned and disorganized meetings. Clients will be impressed if you intentionally budget and plan a regular and organized schedule for project status updates. Each meeting should have an end goal which is stated in the beginning, an agenda, time limit, and the minimum number of attendees that are necessary to accomplish the meeting goal.
Be Clear About Goals and Regularly Review Results
One of the things that will impress clients every time is to promise a set of results, and consistently review progress against the goals of the project. If you can incorporate both quantifiable goals such as progress against the budget and schedule, as well as "soft" goals such as ability to solve problems quickly and avoid potential problems you will be better able to show multiple levels of value. Consultants that provide measurable results are best able to document and prove their value to clients again and again.
Make Their Life Easier
Anything you can do to save your client time, and make their job easier will make you easy to remember, and differentiate your services. Look for things that you can take off their plate, will enable them to complete their projects at a lower cost and give them recognition in the industry or within their company. This is even true in how you write your proposals - make sure they clearly lay out some unique differences in how you do business that will make you easier to do business with.
What are some of your tips for exceeding your client's expectations?
This post was written by Acuity Business Solutions' Strategic Advisor and President & Chief Executive Officer of AEC Business Solutions, June R. Jewell, CPA.