In your business, one of the most important tasks you are ever going to engage with is maintaining a relationship with your customers and your clients. Maintaining a relationship. It's a lot harder than it sounds, and in fact it's more of an art than a science. While some people will tell you that the key is to have as much data as possible, and use that data to talk to people, the reality is that you need to tailor what you do, what you say, how you say it and when you say it to every single person who does business with you. Why?
Because people want different things. But they always want personal things.
The key to maintaining a healthy relationship with any client is to walk that fine line between talking to them far too often, so that they feel harassed or bothered, and not talking to them enough, leaving them feeling neglected and forgotten. There's no hard and fast rule here, about the way you approach your client base. We wish there were, but what works perfectly for one client or business could be the opposite of what another client wants. And if you can't manage that correctly, you'll find clients will leave you, even if you've met and exceeded their professional requirements.
It's all about the relationship, and how well you handle it.
One of the worst things you can do is automate it.
Automation can do a lot. But it can never replace a one on one connection with a client, and it can certainly never understand the nuances of how exactly every client likes to be communicated with. In fact, if you follow the best rule of automation, which is automate everything that doesn't require your voice, you'll understand that you have to keep your client relationship, keep any messages that you need to get in front of your clients coming from real people. There's nothing that can replace that connection, and nothing that can replace that personal understanding of actual needs and preferences.
In the end, you have to treat your clients as more than just clients.
Even though they've hired you, and are paying your fees, every client wants to be treated as though they are more than just a voice at the end of the phone. They don't want to be your best friend, but they want to recognise and understand that you look at them as more than just walking talking living breathing dollar signs. That's what relationship management is really about, it's the art of growing and maintaining a healthy relationship over a long period of time. If you can achieve that, if you can master it, you'll be able to keep a great client list of people who trust and value you.
Here's one more note. The toughest part of relationship management is that you won't always know when people aren't happy with their relationship. But you will always know if they're unhappy, because they'll talk with their feet and leave!