Strong customer relationships may be the best way to serve your clients and retain their business over the long haul. Another word for that is “intimacy”. While pricing and other terms are important, and must be “in the ballpark”, strong client relations, or intimacy, is a powerful barrier to entry your competitors will find hard to conquer.
Why? Because with that intimacy, your clients know and trust you and understand you are there for them…to help them achieve their success…not just your own. By understanding and serving them and their needs, and going the extra mile, you demonstrate that you are looking out for their well-being, something they will not soon forget.
Staying close to your clients and the issues they face is the best way to find out:
- What is on their mind
- How your firm is performing
- What new services they need
- What makes your customers tick
- What worries them the most
Sometimes, your customer’s issues can become your opportunities to deliver unexpected value to them. This creates excellent opportunities to grow closer to your clients and their industry. We tried to stay current on our client’s regulatory and legal issues, and significant changes in the nature of their business.
We did this by talking to them and reading their industry journals-not just ours. For instance, on two separate occasions, we learned our clients needed help preparing to testify at state hearings about pending legislation. We researched and provided them with data we had collected that helped their cause; data that they could not have gotten from anywhere else.
Another way we solidified our relationships was to engage them to solve common problems. For instance, by looking at our customer as a “whole,” not just as a buyer of our services, we found ways to help them enter new markets and grow profitably. We added to our clients’ industry; we did not just feed off of it.
In one case, we explored how they could safely operate in other parts of the world. In another case, we investigated how they could provide drastically new services to their clients in a profitable and safe way.
Wouldn’t you develop an unshakable loyalty to a vendor who took the time to understand your business and deliver solutions to your problems?
Other actions we took were sponsoring open and free informational forums (not sales presentations) on key challenges they face and provide suggestions on how to meet and overcome those challenges. In this case, it was how to perpetuate their businesses upon retirement.
By thinking about solutions to their problems, instead of just additional products to sell them, we developed friendships and a bond that would not disappear when a lower priced competitor knocked on their door.
Do you know what your top ten clients’ major concerns are? Are you trying to help them find workable solutions? Call me and let’s talk…