5 Paramount Rules For Trusting Customer Relationships ( BUSINESS WISDOM)
Every Internet agency owner or account manager, or maybe even a freelancer, would like to see clients who:
- know exactly what they want;
- follow the recommendations;
- do their part of the work in good faith.
But, unfortunately, we live in the real world, and more often it happens exactly the opposite.
The good news is that the situation can be corrected. And build relationships with customers so that they come back to you again and again. This, of course, is not done in one go. But it will provide you with regular work. And most importantly, without hassle, emergency work, and with adequate, understanding customers.
Always indicate the goals of cooperation.
Any task is meaningless if you do not understand what will happen as a result of its implementation. It is also important to determine how you are going to solve it — to prescribe ways to achieve goals. And set KPIs. If they are not set, it is impossible to find out how fast you are moving towards your goal, or whether you are moving at all.
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It is better to define goals by working together with the customer. So that each of the parties understands what to expect from cooperation, and does not build illusions.
#Control the entire process and avoid surprises.
Clients appreciate a clear systematic approach. This inspires confidence in the success of the entire project.
So, before starting work, tell the client how your business processes are built — what are their advantages, what goals you plan to achieve at each stage, and by what methods. The time “before the start” is also a good time to demonstrate successful cases or work out doubts and objections. This approach will show the client that he turned to professionals in their field.
Also at this stage, it is worth saying: what kind of interactions and with what frequency do you plan. For example, regular phone calls to exchange opinions, project summaries, or full reporting with a given regularity. It is important that customers understand what feedback to expect from you and in what time frame. The fact that you can not disappear from the “radar”, we think, is not necessary to talk about.
#Create promotion concepts together.
You, as experts in your field, know the “materiel” better. But the work you do is important first of all for the client. To trust you, he must understand how valuable this or that stage of the project is, what exactly is happening and why it is being done. There is no better way to involve the customer in the process than to share the intricacies of building a strategy and think through crucial moments together. For example, identify promotion channels or USPs.
The client must understand what steps your joint work implies, and not just focus on final numbers like “plus 1000 new site users per month.”
Working together on a strategy also makes it possible to successfully counter clients who like to change everything in the process.
#Learn to refuse.
Not keeping your promises is bad both in everyday life and in business. So the main thing is not to promise what you cannot or do not want to do for some reason. Sometimes it is difficult to resist the pressure of the client. Which demands to immediately do this and that, argues: “Everyone does it” or “Here in the company” B “I was told that this is possible.” It is easier to express your expert opinion and refuse to cooperate at all. Then to change yourself or agree to a deliberately failed option. No one will remember your objections later. But the failure will be entirely laid on you.
#Study your customer in advance.
At the very beginning of a business relationship, it is important to spend time and effort learning more about a potential client. The lack of comprehensive information before the conclusion of the contract is a serious flaw. This is confirmed by Hall & Partners data, which directly points to 2 main shortcomings of the “executor-customer” communication:
- They do not understand the target audience of their customers.
- They do not know the intricacies of the business of the promoted brand.
- This ignorance can create problems right from the start.
#Specify business features.
It is not enough to know the name of the promoted product and the characteristics of the target audience. To create successful projects, it is also important to understand the client’s business model.
The following questions will help you understand this:
What are the company’s business goals for the quarter, for the year?
What is the long-term outlook for the industry in which the client operates?
What problems and obstacles might be encountered?
What are the metrics to measure business success?
If you know what is of value to the client, then you can definitely help him with the promotion.
#Do your industry research.
For agencies that do business in a certain segment — for example, in medicine or the information business, this is unlikely to be a discovery. But if a new client works in a niche that is unfamiliar to you, you should quickly get used to it.
Some players in the digital marketing market offer to conduct an initial assessment using express monitoring of the media and media channels. Browse social media and forums for reviews and discussions of competing products and services. This is a kind of mini-market research that will allow you to quickly get an overview of the industry. Even before you move on to larger studies.
This approach is especially valuable for customers from B2B or even the public sector. When an agency or freelancer shows that they are familiar with the specifics of a certain industry, this always increases the chances of building a long-term relationship.
#Use your own promoted products and services.
Even if you’re not in the brand’s target audience, it’s worth understanding how the typical customer feels. For example, if you are promoting a particular brand of mobile phones, use them. It’s always good to get to know a client’s brand firsthand.
To get to know your potential customer better, conduct a competitive analysis.
Understanding the “balance of power” in the industry will help to understand the place of the customer in the market. That is, what you have to start with. And also to see new opportunities for promotion: if rivals use it, but your client does not yet.
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#Switch to collaboration.
83% of agencies claim that clients do not consider them partners at all.
In the long term, this approach does not work on both sides. It is important for you to feel that the project is not being done in vain, and for clients — that their opinion is valuable. But here it is important not to overdo it. Attract clients to work exactly to the extent that they are comfortable. Someone wants to participate even in the discussion of the smallest details. And someone, on the contrary, strives for everything to be done without him. It is important to feel the line beyond which joint work will become uncomfortable. And don’t cross it.
What is the best way to build effective business relationships?
#Learn to exit the game.
Among the customers come across difficult people with a peculiar approach. Learn to recognize these “on the shore” and refuse to cooperate. This way you will avoid many problems.
It is difficult to refuse real orders that bring money. But this approach pays off. Select customers who suit you in terms of communication level, in spirit. And do not work with those who do not “fit” into your picture of the world. Or wants the impossible from you.
#Generate collaborative content.
Working together on a promotion plan is one part. There is another — creative.
Always give the client the opportunity to express their ideas. This helps build trust. Creative ideas may or may not be successful. But be sure to give the customer a chance to prove himself — this can lead to joint success.
#Build the communication process.
Even if you think that business communication is your forte, there are always growth points:
Show initiative. Don’t wait for the client to raise a question or see a problem. Look for and anticipate such moments, and immediately offer solutions.
Don’t lie. Telling the truth is sometimes difficult, especially when something goes wrong. But sincerity is indeed the best policy, and acknowledging the problem is half the solution. Further silence can only worsen the situation.
Reveal all cards. Visually demonstrate where and how much money goes, and what exactly the budget is spent on. Since this is the main stumbling block. Clients often think that online agencies make too much money. Whereas, in fact, the lion’s share of the funds goes to things that are important for the campaign — like paid promotion on search or in networks. Let customers know about it.
Be attentive to comments. It’s hard to take criticism, especially if you’re 100% confident in your approach. The main thing is that the client understands that you heard him and try to do what he needs. Perhaps not in the way he suggests. But in general, you are always in touch and try to take into account the wishes. This always contributes to strengthening mutual trust.
Report progress as you work.
You always need to report to customers, this is an axiom of business in the field of promotion. But how often and in what detail do you do it? With the help of a well-built system, one can not only strengthen mutual trust but also emphasize the results achieved.
#Implement regular reports.
It is always necessary to clearly describe KPIs, stages of work, and tactics, as well as indicators obtained in the course of work. At the same time, reporting should be simple, with maximum use of visualizations.
You won’t impress customers with detailed reports with small numbers or jargon. It is better to give regular and understandable statistics about the project and often answer questions that arise.
#Practice meetings to share information.
Regular meetings are a great way to maintain customer loyalty. In the course, you can report all the details of the current stage, “advertise” achievements and discuss future plans. This will avoid unpleasant surprises. When one party thinks the other is in the know and acts accordingly. For example, an additional budget is spent, and the customer completely forgot about such an agreement. The exchange of current information can be carried out both in person and via videoconferencing.
Reporting on a regular basis is hard work, and it should be automated and outsourced to special services. For example, if you’re monitoring brand mentions on social media, you don’t have to do it manually. There are online tools that will not only collect the necessary data, but also send a report to the client by e-mail. Or you can implement end-to-end analytics, which will help you collect real-time data across all advertising channels. And display the results in a convenient dashboard. You can always share a link to such a report with your customer — and he will be pleasantly surprised by its simplicity and clarity.
#Always do what you promised.
Many have come across this approach: the expected results are deliberately underestimated in order to “overfulfill the plan” later. It works, but up to a certain limit. It is better to initially choose clear KPIs to evaluate your work and ensure their consistent implementation.
It is hardly possible to build a house on an unreliable foundation. If you don’t do what you set out to do, you’ll lose the customer. Your word should be the guarantee of the deed. When you do what you promised, it emphasizes your professionalism and strengthens the trust of customers.
CONTRIBUTED BY Gil Mahesh
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