In today’s competitive space, tech companies that thrive in their customer relationships are the ones that survive.
Unfortunately, knowing how to gauge the strength of these relationships is not always easy. Customers very rarely let businesses know what they’re thinking, and most often the first indication is when they leave.
The potential impact of this is immense. Getting complacent and coasting along on a big account leads to disaster when it’s suddenly lost.
Even though every client is different, there’s a strong need for tech companies to be proactive about measuring, managing and maintaining client relationships. Doing so draws attention to potential problems early on, making a fix more likely to be found. Many times the relationship can be maintained or even improved.
Here are three things that separate the customer relationship success stories from the failures.
1. They Stay In Touch
One of the biggest issues companies run into with their clients is that after a long period of collaboration, communication becomes monotonous and routine.
Of course, this isn’t all bad. Having a pattern is more pleasant, more productive and overall indicative of a healthy relationship. But it also becomes a breeding ground for complacency. Established communication channels can ossify, leaving precious little room for anything out of the ordinary to be heard.
One of the most disastrous outcomes of this problem is when clients stop communicating changes in their overall approach or strategy - and the business doesn’t notice.
In a healthy client relationship, this lack of dynamism would be quickly noticed and handled. But a business that takes their client communications for granted won’t pick up on these subtle shifts until it’s too late.
It’s imperative, therefore, that businesses add time to communicate with clients outside the usual channels at least once a week/month/quarter. Failure to do so might very well result in huge blind spots that lead to losing a client … one that could have been easily retained with a few discussions to iron out an existing problem.
2. They Establish Trust
While it’s important to stay vigilant in client relationships that are humming along, it’s just as important to watch out for the direct - and indirect - signs that the opposite is true. A lack of trust is devastating and may not only cost your business a client, but also harm your reputation when looking for new clients.
The direct way that lack of trust manifests is through an overabundance of communication. If a client is constantly dictating specifics, asking about updates or requesting work to be redone, it’s a huge red flag that something is wrong and needs to be addressed immediately.
Don’t forget: clients are paying you to perform a service they either can’t or don’t want to do themselves. If they feel the constant need to spend their time and resources micromanaging your work, it won’t be long until they go looking for a new company.
On the flip side, you have those clients who never give any feedback at all. This is highly unusual behavior, and is even more circumspect when a single relationship manager is responsible for the account.
If requests for a status update about a client are constantly met by the account holder with reassurances that “everything is fine” and “there isn’t anything to look at,” it’s almost certainly an indication that the opposite is true. Don’t brush it off. Get to the bottom of it.
3. They Know When To Let Go
It’s never pleasant when a client is lost or let go. But remember that healthy client relationships are a two way street.
While it’s tempting to want to please everyone, keeping a client that’s causing more trouble than they’re worth doesn’t make any sense either. It’s important to know when to say goodbye.
Overall, gauging and nurturing healthy client relationships is all about being proactive. If you take the time to constantly evaluate your communication channels, keep a dialogue going about the areas in need of improvement, and stay honest with yourselves and each other, you’ll be well on the way to maintaining both productive and lucrative customer relationships.