For those of us in the PR industry, it is very important to maintain and enhance our relationships with current clients. Developing these connections make our tasks more satisfying and effective, because clients want to know that they matter and are more willing to cooperate if they feel as if they do.
Making sure these relationships work is what keeps us in business, and here are some topics to look at when improving your interactions with clients.
As the professional consultant, you have to say ‘no’ if the client is asking for things that are not in his best interest or that are beyond your capabilities. In this situation, it is important to explain the reasons for not accepting the project and to suggest alternatives. But beyond the no’s, also be willing to say yes. When something comes up that is beyond your comfort zone, be open to taking the extra strides to make it work – if it could mean something big for your client. The more work you are able to secure for your client, the more valuable you will become.
Learn the client’s interests. Knowing that they like Italian food or enjoy playing tennis is information that could lead to better relationships. You will likely be spending many hours with and around the client during a project, so make it a point to learn something new each time you meet. Once you do learn something new, keep track of the information so that you can use it whenever relevant.
There are no dumb questions; with each enquiry you are able to better understand the client’s observations. This will also help you to keep track of your performance and understand client expectations regarding a specific project. The art of questioning is very important in PR for building trust and credibility.
PR consultants should be able to offer solutions for challenges that a client is facing. The more problems we can help them solve, the better. Sometimes our activities allow us to see things from a different perspective, which can be very helpful to the client. Sharing these ideas may even help clients solve problems before they even exist.
While it is crucial that we build relationships, we also need to be diligent in keeping our professional distance in order to continue to provide effective advice and expertise. This means understanding your part and communicating this role to the client. The client will appreciate your honesty and will gain respect for your professionalism.
Staying focused on the contract and on what you promise to deliver is the best thing you can do to maintain and build your client relationships. Talk about the progress of deliverable and deadlines in your client meetings. By delivering what you promise, when you promised, you build credibility and enhance your relationships.
The bottom line of what we need to do on a daily basis is maintain client satisfaction. Keeping our partners happy is the best source of future business. Existing clients will continue to use our offerings if they are pleased with our service. This, in turn, makes them a great referral source for new clients, so keeping everyone happy can be instrumental in growing our PR portfolios.
Getting to know your client well from the very beginning will help a great deal in building a strong and lasting working relationship. Understanding your client’s key contact on a personal level, including their idiosyncrasies and foibles, will assist you in better interacting with them.
You should always undertake a degree of homework before meeting a new client. Researching their business before your first meeting will demonstrate that you have an idea about their business and interests, making them much more likely to trust you with their account.
Even if you know your client’s business well, they are the still the expert in their field of operations. Encourage an open dialogue so that they can inform you of any developments and wider industry issues that you should be aware of. Not only will this greatly assist in your planning and with ideas for new initiatives for your client, it also shows that you are a proactive professional who is keen to learn as much as possible about what they do.
Your clients will be constantly judging your progress, your performance and the quality of service you provide. Criticism is a natural part of your relationship, so when it comes, treat it objectively and as a chance for improvement. Encouraging your account contact to be critical shows that you are keen to do your best and that you are looking for areas where you can do better. This openness will help cement your relationship as partners working towards the same goals.
Adding value to your contract is another great way to show your commitment to your client’s business. Consider more than the minimum requirements of deliverables and deadlines by thinking outside the box for additions that will bring extra functionality to their business. Going the extra mile will prove to your client that not only are you on top of the work and capable of managing the account, but that you value their business and are keen to maintain the relationship.