Client relationship management is a juggling act. Not only must you take care of all the details behind the scenes to ensure they receive their products - by facilitating services and keeping operations running smoothly - but you must also tend to the details and presentation to satisfy the client. Many entrepreneurs and client-facing employees have struggled to balance all of this. Although mistakes are bound to happen, here are a few common errors that you should keep in mind and avoid at all costs.
Don't do all the talking. Entrepreneurs and salespeople tend to be excited about the products or services they offer, and that enthusiasm can lead to dominating the conversation. Whether in a sales meeting or simply calling a client to catch up, spend more time asking questions and allowing your client to lead the discussion. At The Covenant Group, we highlight the importance of the client attraction conversation during the sales process and believe it is important to keep the same principle in mind in all client interactions. You need to learn how to engage with prospective clients.
It's also important not to lose touch. If the only times you contact a client is to try to sell them something or talk shop, you might make them feel as if they are nothing more than a dollar sign. Humanize the relationship by reaching out in between service calls. Send emails when you come across news articles your clients may be interested in and mail cards on their birthdays.
Tom Rieger of National Business Innovations identified another mistake in a recent post for OPEN Forum. He warns business owners to steer clear of "treating process as the outcome," or assuming that following certain steps by to the letter will always result in satisfied, loyal clients. This is an error that can sink a company's CRM efforts very quickly.
At the heart of client relationship management is the realization that every client is different, no matter how many characteristics or needs they may share with the other people or businesses you serve. As such, you should never make assumptions about your client's needs or demands before talking with him or her. Treat every interaction as an opportunity to learn more about the intricacies surrounding your clients' accounts. That said, you should also use past experiences to prepare yourself for future situations. Or, as Rieger says, "It's okay to have a toolbox of processes and approaches, but representatives should be given some level of empowerment to adapt to the specifics of the situation."
What are some missteps that you've learned from through your client relationship management efforts? Are there common mistakes that you've committed but have since learned to avoid? Please share your stories in the comments section!