As a Business Owner and Certified Management Consultant I have experienced the rewards, advantages, and disadvantages of consistently working with the same client’s on different consulting engagements Repeat Business is critical for new start-ups and companies less than 3 years old.
Relationship Building plays an integral part in establishing your niche or brand. One beneficial advantage is knowing the customer’s need and expectations. Once you have established a long-term relationship with your client’s you are able to offer them more value and discounts for your services as opposed to first time customers.
One of the best ways to establish long-term relationships are to do a good job and never take any short cuts. If you provide excellent customer service and value, customers will seek your expertise on a recurring basis. One disadvantage to working with repeat businesses is client’s taking your generosity and value for granted and not fulfilling their obligations in terms of payment and compensations. This issue can be avoided by adhering to the terms of the contract.
How can businesses maintain their relationships? The author has identified 7 critical initiatives for providing exceptional customer service.
1. Be Ethical: Create and Display your Code of Ethics to ensure moral compliance with your clients.
2. Be Accessible: Provide off hour communication mechanisms for clients to contact you. These technology tools could include Skype, instant message, or email. Return all phone calls in less than two hours and get call forwarding, or an answering service to communicate with clients.
3. Be Trustworthy: Reliability is one of the keys to many successful business relationships and good service is no exception. Do not make promises you cannot keep.
4. Respond to Customer Complaints: Please treat all customer concerns with sensitivity and urgency. Building and maintaining relationships are critical to long term success. Create an Issue Management Log.
5. Listen to your Clients: Encourage open communication. Let your clients talk and show them you are listening by making the verbal responses, such as advising solutions to resolve the issues.
6. Provide Project Status Reports: The Project Status Report is a means of communicating regularly the ongoing progress and state of the project.
7. Lessons Learned: Identify lessons learned for feedback to the client’s process. Lessons learned are identified as problems or issues. Provide a brief discussion of the problem that identifies its nature, source, and impact.
Following these seven steps will increase your organization’s chances for establishing long-term repeat business relationships in addition to creating superior customer service. Dr. Jakes is Area Chair Management, Organizational Behavior and Development, School of Business – University of Phoenix.
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