Businesses nowadays compete not just on product quality but also on client service quality. From client onboarding to client retention, client management enables enterprises to create a wonderful experience. It genuinely holds the key to your company’s success. We’ve put everything you need to know about client management into an easy-to-read and digestible handbook to help you improve your client experience. Let’s start with the fundamentals.
What is Client Management?
Client management is the process of managing your company’s relationships with customers. Client management has a dual purpose.
On the client side, it provides a dedicated route for clients to communicate their demands so that the company can meet them. On the business side, it safeguards the organization’s economic interests by managing expectations, negotiating outcomes, limiting costs, and delivering projects that result in satisfied (preferably repeat) consumers.
Client management may fall under the purview of designated Client Managers or individual Project Managers in project-based organizations. Whoever is involved in client contact must be equipped with the core client management skills required for success.
Why are Client Management Skills Important?
Client management abilities are critical because they can create or break a relationship. And revenue comes from relationships. Begin a new client relationship incorrectly, and this may be the only time they work with you. However, if you create a great relationship built on trust and openness, they may return over and over again.
- Strong client management abilities set projects up for success by ensuring needs are appropriately captured, communication is clear, and expectations are properly handled.
- It is less expensive to retain than to acquire. Retaining a current client involves less time and money than finding and onboarding a new one, lowering your overall customer acquisition costs and increasing your bottom line.
- Return clients imply a higher LTV. Happy repeat clients have a higher lifetime value to your company than ‘one-and-done’ customers who never work with you again, and they’re more inclined to suggest you.
Client management is not always simple. Information might be lost in translation, assumptions can go unstated, and requirements can go unnoticed. When this happens, your endeavor is based on shaky ground, and your relationship may suffer as a result.
Challenges of Client Management
#1. Making assumptions
As the adage goes, “We make an ass out of you and me when we assume.” Assumptions can destroy relationships before they ever begin. Clients may make assumptions about how you will complete the job or how much it will cost. You may also make assumptions about what the client needs or will be satisfied with. If these assumptions are incorrect, disappointment may occur.
#2. Managing expectations
Client expectations may not always match reality. Maybe they want to do a champagne project on a lemonade budget. Or their timetable is completely ridiculous. When it is up to you to solve the problem, this is referred to as managing client expectations. It is about ensuring that the client is realistic about what can be accomplished while minimizing any bad consequences for your company (such as a dispute or the client quitting the project).
Miscommunication occurs when two people think they are on the same page but are not. This can lead to client needs not being satisfied, jeopardizing outcomes, repeat business, and your reputation. Client relationships must be established based on mutual respect and trust, just like any other connection. Clients must believe that you are acting in their best interests and value the skills you bring to the table. Without it, reaching an agreement on how projects should be delivered will be difficult. You should establish trust, but it will not happen overnight.
If you’ve ever dealt with any of these client management challenges, you know how difficult it can be to recover from them. However, improving your client management abilities can help prevent this from happening again.
Client Management Skills
A client manager should have the following skills. They define the job and determine how good your client relationship can be.
When you meet with clients over the phone or in person, the client’s first impression of you is important. You should project the image of an expert in your subject. They come to you because they believe you can solve their situation. If they meet you and get a smell of I’m not sure what I’m doing from you, they’re out. When encouraging a client to make the right decision, be confident.
#2. Analytical skills
Be a critical thinker. Maintain your cool. Predict your clients’ requirements. Pay attention to the subtleties. Understand your company’s product or service so you may meet the needs of your clientele in the best way possible. Understand how to respond to the question, “Why should your client buy from you?”
#3. Understanding the needs of the client
Clients might be difficult to work with at times. Some of them believe that you should be aware of their troubles as soon as they greet you. They will become irritated if you do not understand what they require right away. Others who desire a solution for X won’t even realize it if they keep asking for solution Y. All of this comes with the responsibility of providing an excellent client experience. They assume that by reading between the lines and knowing what they want, you should be able to tell them what they need. Patience is essential. Encourage them to clarify their issue.
#4. Being persuasive
Be prepared to meet with some difficult customers when you meet with them. Dictators are those who realize you need them, not the other way around. After all, isn’t it my money you want? At this stage, you should not be concerned about anything. Maintain a calm and convincing demeanor while you argue with them.
#5. Be adaptable
Being a client manager necessitates being adaptable in order to meet the needs of your clients. When a consumer makes a new request, think about it before deciding how to say no if you won’t or can’t go along with the idea. If your communication pattern isn’t functioning, you should be able to change it. Some clients require a more direct approach.
Most customers are irritable when dealing with salespeople. You might be tempted to answer in the same tone as the person speaking to you, but you shouldn’t. Customers should be treated as if they are having the worst day of their lives. Please excuse their rudeness, and the majority of them will slow down. They are customers who can irritate you by repeatedly asking questions about a specific process. Instead of snapping at them, try treating them like new members of your team. Clear explanations improve their collaboration with you.
#7. Updating clients
This should be simple. Keep your clients informed while you try to solve a problem or complete a task. Send out weekly project updates. You’ll get better results because approvals and disapprovals will be noted and modifications made as appropriate. It dispels any concerns they may have about you.
#8. Effective communication
This is a talent that every client manager should have, if not the most crucial. Communicating work progress does not require disclosing every single detail. There is a concept known as selective information sharing. You just reveal what is necessary.
#9. Do your job well.
You must be skilled at what you do. Respect all of your deadlines.
Client Relationship Management Best Practices
#1. Make your client a part of the goal-setting process.
During the goal-setting process, you should demonstrate your dedication to the client connection right away. Just because a client comes to you for help doesn’t imply they want to give up control over setting goals and developing plans to improve their business.
When both sides actively participate in goal-setting, you’ll get considerably better results that are targeted to their needs.
- Expert advice: Collaborative goal-setting in medicine enables patients and physicians to share ideas and learn from one another, develop patient-defined goals, and promote goal achievement. Try it with your client interactions.
#2. Take the initiative in your client communications.
Proactive communication is essential in client relationships. And in a commercial connection, you must be the one to take the first step.
Clients should not have to send an email and then wait several days for a response. When there is a breakdown in communication, clients may believe you are unconcerned about their needs. It sounds like a poor dating situation.
Instead, be proactive by communicating with your clients and keeping them up-to-date on your progress. Essentially, you become so adept at keeping your consumers “in the loop” that they no longer need to inquire about updates or information since you’ve already delivered it.
- Pro tip: Communication platforms like Slack and Trello are excellent for staying in touch and managing projects collaboratively. Better yet, they allow you to reach out and answer potential problems or queries before the client does.
#3. When necessary, put the onus back on your client.
Whether you’re developing a marketing campaign or assisting a client with their shipping and inventory requirements, you’re unlikely to be effective if the client is completely disconnected from your procedures.
In fact, in order for you to succeed, the client will most likely need to do some work or supply additional information before you can proceed.
When you ask your client a question, you should be respectful and strive to make things as simple as possible. Duda, a website builder that enables agencies to swiftly collect content from their clients by providing easy-to-use forms for uploading original assets, is a fantastic example of a technology that does this well.
- Pro tip: You can’t go wrong with Google Drive or Dropbox for document collaboration or basic data sharing. These simple, easy-to-use systems make it simple to share papers with your client.
#4. Address a client’s needs before they are even aware they exist.
Whatever role you play in the client’s relationship, it is ultimately your obligation to address their pain areas and discover strategies to help them achieve their goals.
The issue is that clients do not always know what they require. They may recognize that they are having difficulties, but they may not have pinpointed the source of their difficulties.
You can create trust and provide better results by putting yourself in your client’s position and addressing problems before they arise. You shouldn’t only wait for your clients to come to you with their difficulties if you want to make a favorable impression.
Take the initiative and provide a solution to the client when you see a method they could be using better. Even better, you may anticipate what your clients will require in the future, showcasing your expertise and dedication.
#5. Pick up the phone and make a real call.
At first glance, email appears to be the most convenient way to contact clients. After all, being able to type up a message and then check it before pushing “send” can help you prevent mistakes and save time.
However, many clients prefer the more personal touch of a phone conversation. And, to be honest, there are many occasions where a phone call is more effective than a protracted email thread.
When it comes to customer service, contact preferences differ by generation. Take a deeper look at your client demographics while identifying the best alternative modes of communication.
#6. Pettiness has no place here; therefore, don’t let it.
While a client may not be the type of person you want to spend your weekends with, that doesn’t mean you should ignore their calls or speak down to them. These actions will only harm you in the long run, making it more difficult to obtain new clients.
Always treat your clientele with respect; otherwise, they may not stick around for the long term. And don’t get hung up on the minor details; it’s not worth it.
- Pro tip: Not every customer will be your ultimate favorite, which is fine. However, every consumer should be handled with the same level of courtesy. If you ever get caught dealing with unpleasant consumers, you can always refer back to these tips.
#9. Be open and honest, even if it’s unpopular.
Everyone makes errors. Despite your best efforts, you may fail to assist your client in meeting the shared goals you set.
It can be easy to gloss over these flaws out of fear of losing a client. However, if you choose to be dishonest, the consequences might be substantially worse.
Nobody wants to cooperate with someone who conceals the facts in order to protect their reputation or increase sales. Because the firm waited so long to report the infamous Equifax data leak, the company’s stock and trust have plummeted.
Though timely disclosure may not have prevented all of these repercussions, a more forthright approach could have mitigated the damage.
- Expert advice: Perhaps a pest control service provider said it best: “The majority of the time, if you give customers the real situation and are honest with them, they’ll be able to see you have their best interests at heart and will be on board.”