One of the most important parts about your business is building a relationship with your clients. No, you don’t have to meet them for dinner or anything so personal, but you do need to learn about each client and what is important to them in terms of business and business dealings. You need to learn what they expect from you, likewise, let them know what you expect from them.
Why is it so important to build a relationship, or a rapport, with your clients? For one thing, it helps you to better tune into their needs when you treat them as more than just another number in your book. You want to make your clients feel as though they are important and as if they are the only client you have. Certainly, they know you have other clients, but you don’t want them to feel that they are not the number one. It may sometimes be difficult when you have a great deal of work to do, but it is a very crucial part of your business and the major contributing factor to your success or failure. If you check the entire retail product or service businesses that have failed, probably a great many lacked a good relationship with the customers.
In order to build a relationship with your clients you must be tuned in to their needs as already stated. In addition, you must be flexible and able to meet their needs in an urgent situation. That doesn’t mean you need to drop everything else for a client who needs something at the last minute, but you do want to try to be sensitive to their needs and help them with a last minute project if it is possible. If not, you need to explain that you would love to do it, but you have other work to complete. Let the client know you will be more than happy to start on their work as soon as you have finished what you are doing. In an emergency you can push their work to the top spot, but if they make it a habit, let them know that you will do it this time, but the next time there will be an additional charge for a “rush job.” This allows you to still maintain the relationship with the client, but let’s them know that as much as you value them, you do have other priorities as well.