Reflections on Growth in Business & Life with Lexie Smith – Season 3 Finale (Minisode) – Podcast Transcript
Episode 70 - Pitchin’ and Sippin’ - Reflections on Growth in Business & Life with…
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What is “client relations”? If you are new here, you may not be familiar with what I call ‘The 6 Relations of PR’. These are the 6 different audiences that we cultivate relationships and opportunities with when we talk about ‘doing PR’. The 6 Relations are:
Client relations, simply put, refers to your brand’s relationship with your clients or customers.
Cultivating positive client relationships plays a huge role in developing a successful business. Maintaining those relationships over time can generate even more business. This blog will review 3 tips for creating positive client relations.
This means our clients and customers get our attention, first. They get to know about things, first. They get prioritized, first.
Many solopreneurs and entrepreneurs feel pressured to predominantly focus on finding a new business because they need to keep new money coming in. This causes them to often prioritize their time and energy marketing and speaking to outside relationships with, for example, the public. And while these new relationships are absolutely important, those who are your active clients not only deserve you to show up for the first, it’s actually strategic to do so as well.
When someone signed up for your product/service they decided they “know, like, and trust you”. Establishing that “know, like, and trust factor” is one of the most time-consuming and difficult parts of getting someone to buy.
Thus, as long as you deliver and don’t break that trust, your active clients and customers are some of the easiest groups to convert and upsell. They’re also the first to act as qualified raving fans and referral machines.
When we look at how to make sure our client relations are as strong as possible, there are three critical stages we want to look at.
When you are onboarding a client, you are setting the bar for the entire relationship. Be thorough, and set very clear parameters around the relationship. What this looks like will depend on your business model.
For a service-based business this includes outlining the rules of engagement – when will you talk, how will you talk, when are the start dates, what can they expect, etc.
For a product-based business, this looks like providing clear shipping information, providing clear how-tos, and making it extremely easy for them to know how and where to contact customer support.
If you’re a community-based business, merge the two.
One thing that becomes absolutely critical in this stage is responsiveness. When someone onboards as a client you should be immediately communicating with them about what’s next. You can consider automating this process – or at least partially automating – again, depending on your business model.
After you have set expectations, it’s incredibly important to practice what you preach. I’ll use my company THEPRBAR inc. for example. When you are my client, you get daily Slack chat support with me Monday – Thursday during business hours. I am out of the office on Fridays and clocked off by 5 PM. Thus, unless it is an emergency – which in that case I have a different way for clients to contact me – I do not respond after hours. I implement this boundary from day 1 because I know the second I break it, I am setting a tone for what they can expect.
All my clients also get an onboarding packet, and we have an onboarding call where we verbally talk through all expectations. While this may seem overkill, I promise it is to both parties’ benefit and sets up the relationship to be healthy and successful from day one.
Your active clients are your number one priority and they need to feel like your number one priority. If you have important business news to share, they should get a personal outreach before you announce anything publically.
One of the biggest ways to make an active client feel underappreciated or unsatisfied is for them to learn about something important at the same time as everybody else. It’s also really important to be aware that active clients are still consuming the same content that your public or outside community members are. If you just charged 10k for a service or product, and then the next day you decide to drop your product to 5k, be prepared that they will see that, and be prepared to address accordingly.
If you’re a product-based business owner, consider announcing a sale or upcoming inventory to your past customers first before blasting it out to the rest of your email list.
Never respond to a client while you’re feeling any sort of heightened emotion. If you are feeling any sort of negative way regarding how a customer or client is acting, take a beat. Take a walk. Get neutral. Then, you can calmly and professionally handle it without emotions getting in the way and clouding your judgment.
Feel confident to put your business hat on when clients step over the line – you have a contract and rules set up for a reason. But also remember to be human. It’s not a terrible idea to have a conversation with yourself or your team about what types of scenarios are cause for bending the rules.
For example, if you have a cancellation policy for 24 hours, and a client reaches out under that window saying they had a family emergency of some kind, that would be a scenario where I would advise putting that human hat on.
It is essential that you understand that goodbyes are typically NOT final – meaning once a client or customer has purchased from you or experienced whatever you have to offer, they are now walking, talking, typing, sounding boards of what it’s like to work with or buy from you. They hold immense impact with future clients and can be absolutely make or break to your and your businesses’ reputation. Knowing that, pay just as much mind to your offboarding process as you do to your onboarding.
For THEPRBAR I do a few different things. I have a dedicated client graduation call, I send them away with goodies, and I make sure to maintain a relationship beyond our time together. This for a product-based business could look like a check-in one month after they purchase a product to see how they are enjoying it, for example.
What this looks like will depend on your type of business. For THEPRBAR, I have created a Slack channel for clients only, I have further broken down the channels per company. This enables me to control notifications and prioritize my clients outside of my general inbox. If you’re only dealing with email, consider setting up a separate client-only email address, or organizing your inbox with filters and folders. You can also have separate phone numbers for clients.
Additionally, take notes of important feelings, events, and milestones that come up with your active clients so you don’t forget. It can be very difficult to keep track of all the minute details as you take on more and more clients.
Ultimately, set your communication systems up so that you’re able to prioritize client relations over the general public.
This is where getting neutral before responding to any situation becomes critical. Generally speaking – unless it’s an extreme scenario – we always want our clients to know that we hear them, see them, and respect them. Thus, put on your listening skills and truly tune in to what they are saying. Even if you don’t agree with what they are saying, and might choose to dispute such, remember to always respond in a professional manner.
Ultimately, creating and maintaining positive client relations are critical for your reputation, and vital to your growth. AND if you can master the art of upselling and/or resell, can be one of your fastest paths to cash. Never forget that your clients should be made to feel important…because they are.