‘Your most unhappy customers are your greatest source of learning’ – Bill Gates
- All enterprises have clients…they are people just like you! Never be frightened to talk to them no matter how difficult the subject matter of the conversation.
- Develop clients which align with the markets core to your business objectives.
- Know your clients and make them feel they are important to you; do not take existing clients for granted when you are developing new ones.
- Have a clear approach to managing client relationships so that you and your client’s organisations know who the points of contact are, and their role, responsibility, authority and accountability.
- Develop relationships at multiple levels in the client organisation; avoid building a relationship centred on one person – people move on and change.
- Build trust, ownership, and alignment with common objectives to achieve a healthy long-term relationship.
- Always be ethical – avoid anything that can be construed a corrupt practice; substantive gifts or inducements of any kind by either party are best avoided.
- Clients are not always right; build a relationship that enables needs, wants, and differences to be respectfully discussed and resolved for mutual benefit.
- For your most important clients have clear, written and approved Account Plans aligned with your business objectives.
- Ensure those managing client relationships quantitatively track and report the frequency, type (meetings, calls, etc.) and substance of their interactions with existing and potential new clients; ensure progress is reviewed regularly.
- Measure client satisfaction quantitatively and take proactive action to swiftly address any adverse trend.
- Remember that a client requirement for you to do work is not your obligation until a contract is signed by both parties.
- There’s no pleasing some clients; difficult clients exist in every business – if the pain becomes greater than the benefit to your business then consider an exit strategy and move on to spend more time working with more productive clients.