The services industry has an innately unique business model that does not offer tangible or manufactured products for profit. Instead, service organizations leverage their talented network of consultants and employees to provide time, skill, and expertise to an outside party.
With that said, a service organization’s bottom line relies heavily on the success of employee and client relations. Trust, communication, and the proper tools are the three most basic steps towards building strong client relationships. Positive client relationships are beneficial for numerous reasons other than just a revenue source—having great client relationships benefits you and your employees as well! As relationships bloom, your organization will notice enhanced levels of employee productivity, morale, and satisfaction.
Check out the 8 tips below to learn how to enhance client relations, improve profits, and ultimately find success with your service offering.
1) Build Trust
The single most important indicators of success in the services industry depends on the ability to build legitimate trust between employee and client. Without trust, delivering projects and services is nearly impossible. Profit lies in positive relationships, and the nature of professional services requires clients to trust the knowledge and expertise of the service provider. If clients cannot trust your specialization in the industry, successful project delivery is doomed from the start.
2) Communicate Openly
Prioritize communication as one of—if not, the—most important aspects of project delivery. Ensure timely, responsive communication between your employees and clients. By putting your client and their needs first, they will in turn appreciate your focus and dedication to their project. Give clients the options for which platform they would prefer to communicate over. Keep lines of communication open—don’t be timid about new software tools for chat or video, and never forget the value of email or snail-mail.
3) Be Patient
Working in services requires dealing with changing timelines, goals, and direction. Be agile when changes do occur, and be patient with your client, their struggles, and their demands. Keep a positive face towards the client, even when things appear to be going awry.
4) Utilize Industry-Specific Project Management Tools
Services leaders are recognizing the importance of project management software, also referred to as contextual collaboration tools. Modern project management tools integrate communication platforms alongside conferencing tools, social capabilities, accounting platforms, as well as scheduling and time management capabilites. Today, project management tools aim to include the multiple collaborative platforms required to successfully complete a project into one, easy-to-use system.
5) Do Your Homework
One of the easiest ways a services professional can enhance client relations is by genuinely taking the time before a project to learn the needs, pains, and strengths of the industry and the client. Consultants and employees at agencies naturally have to adapt to new business models, concepts and environments as they take on each new client. Nothing is more important to your client that showing you can truly benefit their company. If you are knowledgeable about the industry and know more than the average bear about your client, you are at a good starting point.
6) Let the Client In
As communicating, conferencing, and collaborating software evolves and matures to fit the needs of the services industry in 2017, new platforms that invite the client into your network are the most promising tools for the future of services. Give your client transparency into what you are doing—project tasks, timelines, resources, or budget— just to name a few. Grant visibility by investing in a cloud-based software that allows clients to collaborate with employees to complete projects on time, and on budget. The more transparency into your project, the greater the chance of positive client relations.
7) Get Ahead of Any Issues
Issues arise each day when you are a client-facing company. When unexpected changes inevitably occur, make sure you are timely with your reaction to the problem or challenge. For example, if a major milestone is not going to be finished on time, communicate this before you miss your deadline. It’s better to be honest with clients, keeping them updated on your tasks than to make empty promises. Time management is one of the most important aspects involved in the service industry’s success.
8) Be Human
Although the majority of service engagements occur digitally—over phone, chat, video, or collaborative softwares—it is still imperative for service providers to be human. This may seem obvious, but when the number of virtual collaboration strategies continue to burst onto the market, the chance of human interaction with your client continues to fall. Enhance the human component by using phone or video software over chat (when applicable). Share interests and skills with your client upon introduction. Make sure you can make it to their office at least once or twice to initiate a legitimate in-person relationship.