Every successful small business knows how important it is to keep clients happy. However, knowing is easier than doing. Although building and maintaining positive relationships with clients can be a challenge, businesses can take a number of steps to help improve client relationships.
1. Pay Special Attention to the Content of Client Contracts
Once you’ve completed the difficult task of finding a new client, it’s time to work out the exact terms of your agreement. This is a critical piece of establishing a healthy working relationship, as the contract you draft with a client can define your relationship down the road.
In this article about client contracts, an emerging markets trend reporting website, Memeburn, identifies that “if the contract is not completed properly, especially in terms of the scope of work described in the SLA (Service Level Agreement), it is hard for the client or agency to determine exactly what they are going to be doing over the time allocated to the project.”
During this make or break time in the client-business partnership, it’s important that you draft a contract that both sides agree is fair. This includes defining the services that will be performed, how much you’ll be paid, and how and when you’ll be paid. Creating a clear contract that both parties understand will establish a good foundation for a partnership and your collective success.
2. Conduct Regular Reviews
In order to create a fruitful client relationship, it’s important that you continuously solicit constructive criticism and feedback to make sure you’re aligning your services with your client’s needs. The best relationships are constantly reviewed and improved, so it’s important to sit down on a regular basis to examine the way you and your client work together, and brainstorm how it could be improved.
Having your clients fill out a survey is one way to solicit feedback and create a change agent in your working relationship. For more information on how to use surveys to review and improve client services, check out this article from Huffington post, which states that “objective feedback from your customers and clients is more useful than good feedback.”
3. Establish a Payment Method
Once you’ve delivered a service for a client, it’s time to get paid. Though your payment terms should be outlined in your initial contract, sometimes clients will still try to take advantage of a business that is smaller than theirs. Luckily, there is a simple way avoid this behavior, while maintaining your relationship with that client.
Start by revisiting your client contract and create a payment calendar that distributes your payments into several invoices across the service timeline. This will ensure that you get paid as you complete work for your client.
Additionally, electronic invoicing services—such as Viewpost—will connect you with your clients and help you manage invoices electronically, so you can be sure to get paid on time. Establishing a reliable payment method that’s easy for both parties to uphold will help maintain positive working relationships between you and your clients.
At the end of the day, your ability to manage and improve client relationships hinges on how well you communicate with them.
Take the time to listen to their goals and make sure you are clearly defining the terms of your agreement so that there are no misunderstandings. By doing this, you will keep client expectations in check and be in a great position to grow your relationship.