1) Set a Timetable – Always set a time limit and stick to it. Don’t let a quick meeting or phone call turn into an all-day affair. Respect the client’s time, and make sure they respect yours. If a meeting is set for one hour, beginning at 10:00 a.m. and the client does not arrive until 10:15, generally your meeting should still end at 11:00. Ten minutes prior to 11:00 alert the client of the few minutes remaining and focus on things that need to be covered.
2) Communicate - Clear communication can alleviate lots of wasted time. Make sure your form of communication is working for your client. Having a clear understanding of your customer's need will help you respond accordingly. Ask for feedback and never fear the response. Understanding social cues can be helpful. If your client begins to check the time or becomes fidgety in their seat, your communication style may need to change.
3) Set a Plan - Set a structure for your meeting. With a plan, everyone can know what to expect. Consider creating what-to-expect documents. When sending an email, explain the reason for the email and break it into different topics. Write out words instead of an abbreviation. This will make the email easily searchable at a later time. Educating your client is the best way to facilitate the process.
4) Keep Records - Keep detailed records of your interactions with clients. Make a record of important things discussed, issues and solutions. If a client is unorganized, it can cause you to waste time trying to catch them up. Accurate records can make that catch-up process a lot less painful. It can also help to answer questions and resolve misunderstandings.
5) Put Your Plan Into Practice – You must follow your rules. If you hope to have a schedule that works, now is the time to do as you say….practice what you preach. Be on time for appointments, respond to your client’s needs, have a plan of action and keep track of the actions. Having a friendly conversation during a meeting is fine; however, do not waste your client’s time with your historical perspective of accomplishments. Obviously your client chose you, you do not need to monopolize the meeting with personal stories.
While it may be appropriate in some circumstances to move away from a particularly overbearing client, most customer relationships can grow successful bottom lines if you take steps to have preset boundaries and expectations.
Dealing with clients can be tricky, but it is a must. Utilizing these 5 tips can save you a headache and help you build better, stronger client relationships.