You’re in a relationship that, for the first little while, is incredibly fun and exciting. You see one another every day, exchanging multiple phone calls and text messages stating your affections, (think: “no YOU hang up.”) Everything is beautful – sunshine, lollipops and rainbows between you. But then one day, that the spark disappears. You care for one another but somehow, things have just gotten…well, boring. What the heck happened?You’ve lost that loving feeling…
Chances are, you stopped communicating. You stopped listening to each other. You’ve ceased to do things that excite you – you don’t go out, visit new places together or celebrate special events anymore. Simply, you no longer engage with each other the way you once did.
There is most certainly a parallel in our professional lives: for example, you meet a new client for the first time and you really hit it off. Your first few meetings are so exciting – everything is so new and fresh. You’re talking on the phone frequently, exchanging emails and meeting up on Skype. You dress to impress and treat your new client to nice meals and outings. But after some time passes, things change. Everything feels like old hat. Why? Cue the broken record: You’re not engaging one another.
Just like in your personal relationships, it is your job to engage the client – to keep them interested and excited. If you lose that spark and fail to bring it back, the client will find another provider who will. But don’t lose heart! It’s possible to breathe new life into stale relationships.
Here are five easy ways start engaging with your clients today:
1) Break the ice on social media: It’s so easy to drop a line on Facebook or Twitter to say hello or thank a client for a great meeting. Your interaction online demonstrates that you’re paying attention to what’s happening in their world and that you’re interested to know who they are as a person – not just as your client. When you go somewhere with a client, “check in” on Facebook or FourSquare and share that you are enjoying your time together. Another option is to organize a “Tweep-Up” or “Twapéro.” Get your followers and friends together for a lively conversation somewhere. Talk about the things that interest you mutually. Who knows – you might have something wonderful in common.
2) Create a client events calendar: Start collecting client information and enter it into your calendar of choice. You can start with the most basic: their birthday, and perhaps work your way up to more interesting special events, such as “our one year anniversary of working together.” Show ‘em that you not only recognize the length of their customer loyalty but also that you truly value it. How do you attain the client information? Simply talking, observing and writing it down. Also, being Facebook friends or a Twitter follower will help you learn more about important events happening in the life of your client.
3) Send a monthly e-newsletter: There are so many great communication opportunities buried within a simple newsletter. By delivering an e-newsletter via email, you can:
- Inform your client about what you and your colleagues are doing/liking as of late.
- Drive traffic to your blog/invite your clients to follow you online .
- Welcome/introduce new staff members.
- Share upcoming events.
In general, a newsletter is a great way to keep your name alive even when projects might be slow. Just be sure that the content you share is relevant and useful.
- Going to a conference somewhere cool? Send a post card to your client to say hello!
- Show your appreciation by writing a thank-you card and sending it via post. Everyone loves getting a hand-written letter and it shows that you’ve taken five minutes out of your day to express your gratitude for their continued business.
- Offer a free training session. Perhaps there’s a system or a software that your client has not yet mastered. If you can help them, do it. You can be sure that they will not forget your altruism.
5) Invite feedback:
Stress the point that your client’s opinion matters!
- Always leave enough time post-meeting for questions and comments.
- Ask your client to “grade you” (can be anonymous). Use a free survey tool like Surveymonkey or Zoomerang.
- Ask your clients to weigh in on your blog topics.
Putting into effect even just a few of these five suggestions will assist you in maintaing long-lasting client relatinships…and should help you stand out from the competition.
Your turn: What do you do to engage with your clients? What kind of feedback have you received?