There’s something exciting about a new business opportunity or new project, especially if you are in a client facing work environment. The possibility of adding value through products and services and/or business relationships is exhilarating. However, maintaining client happiness and building a lasting working relationship can become a challenge when the project hits snags, or there are staffing changes.
As a business analyst, I often find myself concerned about maintaining client happiness in addition to delivering a quality work product, and I’ve learned a few things along the way. Here are my top five secrets for keeping my clients happy:
Understand your client’s expectations:
You cannot hit an invisible target, right? Well the same applies to your client’s expectations. Make sure you have clear understanding of what they expect from you before starting the project. This helps you determine if you are meeting their needs. Often times we are held accountable for things, we did not know we were expected to do. Whether you are in software development or retail services, there is value in knowing your client’s expectations. You will never meet those expectations if you do not know what they are. Also, do not be afraid to ask. For example: What are you expecting? How often do you need this? Should we change this approach?
Being too busy to respond to a client is simply unacceptable. Who’s not busy? Find a way to let the client know you hear them and you will get back to them with a solution or response as soon as possible. Some people will go quiet until they have everything worked out. Guess what: that is not good enough, and is often the absolute worst way to handle a tricky situation. Even though you have completely solved the problem, the client does not know this and is more likely to say Thanks but No Thanks because they thought you abandoned them in the interim. Get in front of the issue, let your client know that you are on the case.
Be Honest About Hard Truths:
If you are asked to provide something that is not possible, do not be afraid to tell your client it’s impossible or risky. Give them alternatives or give them repercussions, for example, if we do this <impossible thing> then this <unwanted thing> will happen. Most clients will appreciate the honesty, even if the answer isn’t what they wanted to hear.
Everybody on the planet likes to be appreciated once in a while. Just because you landed the deal, there is no reason to stop showing appreciation to the client. There is nothing wrong with an occasional lunch or dessert surprise. Clients love to receive lagniappe (free stuff). Sometimes it’s the little things. They may not remember when you worked all-night or over the weekend to meet a deadline, but they will remember the time you brought donuts or cookies to tell them how much you appreciate their business.
Be Nice. Always.:
I was always taught to kill’em with kindness. As a child, I did not understand that statement but as an adult, I get it! This doesn’t mean that you should let your client have anything and everything they want, but when your client asks for things that are out of scope or simply misunderstand the process, be nice when you redirect them. Nobody likes a jerk, even when they need to be set straight.
Remember, get an understanding of what your client is expecting, sometimes expectations change over the course of time. Be Responsive, the excuse “I was too busy” will not cut it. Be honest. Most people will appreciate and respect you for it! Don’t forget to show your client that you appreciate them. And, don’t be difficult
In addition to providing a quality work product, these are all the key secrets to having a good professional relationship with your clients. I hope you’ve found this helpful. If you have any questions, feel free to send me a note!