The dating scene isn’t all it’s cracked up to be. This is something people who hastily leave relationships soon realize. Even if your old flame hasn’t slandered your reputation after splitting up, you’ll soon see that trying to find someone else isn’t as easy as you thought it would be. It takes time and money (dinner and drinks aren’t cheap). The same also applies to business-client relationships.
You’re better off working on existing client relationships than trying to chase down new ones. PSMJ Resources, Inc. did a study that showed that it’s twenty times easier to improve the relationship with an existing client than it is to find a new client and build a relationship. It pays to work things out.
Part of making a relationship work is simply talking. Asking a simple question like, “How was your day?” even when everything looks okay. Little gestures like this go a long way in fostering a relationship. And if something is going on, this is a great way to start a dialog.
The same goes for business relationships. You can’t assume that just because things appear to be okay, that everything is alright. You have to check in occasionally and ask how things are going. This strengthens your relationship. It also distinguishes you from your competitors.
In this final part of the Clients from Hell series, I’ll show you how to turn ‘bad relationships’ into valuable ones for you and your clients by getting feedback from them. It’s not as hard as you think.
Joan Rivers’ tagline, “Can we talk?” should be your mantra. Your clients, like most people, like to talk about themselves and their issues. Michael Phillips, an architect and creator of the feedback resource, DesignFacilitator, says that clients really do want to give feedback. You just have to get them started. The key is making the process easy.
One option is to use online tools such as the DesignFacilitator. These tools let you put feedback into a quantifiable format which you can use to understand you client’s likes and dislikes, and avoid pitfalls.
You can also simply talk to your clients. Asks open-ended questions like “How well is our process assisting you in managing your project, your budget, or your schedule?”
Talk to the Right Person
Don’t talk to just anybody. After determining how you’ll collect information, figure out who is the decision maker for your client.
Avoid bluntly asking a client what they are thinking before a project starts and don’t wait until the end either. The best time for getting client feedback is during the design and construction process. This way you can tweak your services as the project progresses.
Using the Feedback
As feedback comes in, identify your client’s priorities and preferences. Adapt to their needs when clients indicate that there’s a problem. Additionally, use client feedback to determine which employees work best with them. Some personality types make better match ups than others.
It’s Nothing Personal
Remember to be objective. Client feedback is a reflection of their belief systems and expectations. It’s not about you. The information you collect is about client management. The more you know about them, the better you can serve them and keep the relationship from going south.
Don’t Make Lopsided Compromises
Changes you make based on client feedback should be mutually beneficial. The point of collecting feedback is to adapt your services to fit your clients’ unique needs. This does not mean doing anything they ask you to do. Negotiate. Use client feedback so both of you get what you want.
The difference between a good client and a bad client is you. You know all the nuances of your industry, from the design through the construction, but so do many other designers. You must do something else to make your clients perceive you as being more valuable than the competition.
You’ll stand out from the pack and add more value to your services by talking to your clients and strengthening your relationships. This benefits both you and your clients. Having great relationships with your clients results in more work, projects, referrals, money, trust, loyalty, and respect.