Did you know that service relationships are at the heart of everything we do with our clients? When choosing a new supplier this factors high on many clients list, on this basis we all need to review how we are interacting with our most valued clients.

It depends on the nature of your business of course, but it's important nevertheless not to be complacent. Let's take a look at what you can do for your business:

  1. Be Proactive
    It's 5 to 7 times more expensive to attract new clients than retain existing ones, building better service relationships creates loyalty and exposes you to profitable opportunities which exist within your current client base. Don't wait for your competitors to capitalise on your INACTIVITY.

  2. Responsibility
    The service relationship with your client is 100% your responsibility. The most successful companies surround themselves with suppliers they can trust, and believe can help them and their customers. It gives them that continuity of supply that they rely upon for their own polished reputation. Make it part of your business to understand their business. This is one of the cornerstones for successfully moving from vendor to partner, and then trusted advisor.

  3. Don't take your clients for granted
    Your clients are endlessly being courted and wooed with tempting offers, great service and cheaper prices, so it's crucial not to become complacent about their loyalty. Make it easy for your clients to contact you. Make sure you tell them you're grateful they chose you and that you value the relationship you have. Take time to ask them if they're happy, is there any way you could improve your service or is anything niggling them that they haven't mentioned.

  4. Ownership
    No matter how well you run your business, complaints and issues are inevitable. It's the way you deal with them that counts. Make sure you deal with them promptly and professionally. When things go wrong, offer your Regret, Reason Remedy and Reassurance. Don't hide behind email or voice mails, keep your clients updated with progress (to enable them to make informed decisions) and ensure your molehills don't turn into mountains!

  5. Contact
    It's an old adage, but "people really do buy people" so make it a priority to stay in touch. Define a contact plan which should include a regular face to face meeting or phone call. It gives you an opportunity to share some good news about how your products and services are benefiting your client and find out more about their business challenges and how you can perhaps help.

  6. Deep and Wide
    Cultivate deep and wide service relationships within your client's organization, never stop adding value and ensuring other decision makers are aware of your product, flexibility, service, and reliability. This gives you exposure to different opportunities and the added benefit of multiple in-roads if your main contact decides to leave.

  7. Compatibility
    Make your customers feel at ease in your presence, observe their company culture, and mirror the way they like to do business. Whether it's formal, or on a more casual basis, it's important you are on the same wavelength.

  8. Professionalism
    Strong and effective relationships, by their nature, involve a degree of personal attachment, pride and responsibility. However, this is a business relationship, and it is crucial you (and your clients) know and understand the boundaries within which you both operate. Make Respect and Professionalism your watchwords.

  9. Details
    As with many other aspects of business, listening is key to learning more about your clients. Pay attention to the small details as they often make the biggest difference. And making a fundamental mistake like spelling a name incorrectly can be the end of a relationship before it's even started. Ensure your staff knows who is who, so when clients and suppliers call, they are recognized straight away and treated accordingly.

  10. Keeping it Fresh and Fun
    Clients can be very demanding, and at times we can find this stressful. Keeping your service relationship fresh and fun makes your clients look forward to dealing with you, because "what you make your customers feel really is as important as what you make". And if you make a mistake, a client with whom you have a great relationship is likely to be more forgiving than one that you don't.
  11. Follow these steps and you're well on the way to cultivating strong supplier and customer loyalty - a great recipe for business success!