7 Best Practices For Building Client Relationships

The need to be a trusted partner to your clients is only growing. In a new report, IQTalent Partners offers an array of ways you can move away from being a mere vendor and develop stronger relations with clients.

September 19, 2022 – Think about your experience as a customer from when you first started spending your own money up until now. Chances are, you’ve been exposed to a poor customer experience at some point in time. When you have these negative experiences, it impacts your view of the establishment for the long road, according to a report from IQTalent Partners – an on-demand talent acquisition solutions provider now part of search firm Caldwell. “After all, it is highly unlikely that you would return and do business with someone who treats you poorly,” said Chris Murdock, chief sourcing officer and co-founder of IQTalent Partners. “The success of companies hinges largely on strong, trustworthy client relationships. This is nothing new and will only increase in the years to come.”

A recent study found unhappy customers tell twice as many people about their negative experiences as happy customers do about their positive experiences. Considering it takes 12 positive customer experiences to make up for one negative experience, providing a stellar customer experience the first time is crucial.

“Rather than viewing themselves as a vendor, B2B companies (ourselves included), should aim to become a trusted partner for their clients,” said Mr. Murdock. IQTalent Partners compiled a list of ways you can transition from a vendor to a trusted partner and how you can work on creating and maintaining strong client relations.

1. Go Above And Beyond

About 73 percent of consumers will ghost a brand after three or fewer negative customer service experiences.

“Nobody wants their clients to have a poor experience, so putting them first at every opportunity counts,” said Mr. Murdock. “As a recruiter, you’re working together to help them acquire the best talent to fill their organization with new skills, diversity, and innovation. It’s not about paychecks or contracts – it’s about what you can do for your clients that help them go further. You’re not doing ‘extra’ work. You’re adding value to your client’s business, products, and services by going above and beyond to make sure they and the candidates you recruit for them achieve more than just satisfaction.”

First, clients will remember the times when you came through for them, according to Mr. Murdock. “They will feel as though they are your most important client,” he said. “Staying on top of your game and at the forefront of your client’s needs establishes your brand as reliable, and reliability goes a long way toward building trust with your partners. Follow up with candidates because it’s the right thing to do to build your client’s employer brand and create a positive relationship with the candidate, not because it’s convenient.”

Chris Murdock is a veteran of the recruiting and talent acquisition industry with 20 years of experience spanning across multiple industries. He founded IQTalent Partners in 2009 and now leads search execution and client relationships for the firm. Prior to establishing IQTalent, Mr. Murdock worked with Yahoo!’s internal executive recruiting team, gaining in-depth experience across the technology recruiting sphere. He began his career working for Heidrick & Struggles and TMP Worldwide.

Second, Mr. Murdock notes that going the extra mile for one client may open up additional streams of revenue and new offerings you had not previously considered. Networking can be a treasure trove of opportunities, and clients who trust you are more likely to recommend you to their contacts with 83 percent of customers are willing to refer after a positive business experience.

2. Treat Every Client Like Your Most Important One

Happy clients are more likely to stay with you and make positive referrals. Sounds simple, right? “But providing each of your clients with your best possible service is a pretty big challenge, no matter the size of your organization,” said Mr. Murdock. “Plus, you never know who your clients know and to whom they may refer you, but the takeaway is you want to be the partner they recommend.”

A recent survey found that 67 percent of customers mention bad experiences as a reason for churn, but only one out of 26 unhappy customers complain. “There is a strong possibility of maintaining unhappy clients without your knowledge,” said Mr. Murdock. “These clients could choose to go at any moment. It is also important to remember that organizations grow. Today’s small businesses could be tomorrow’s big businesses, and it would be incredibly fulfilling to be a trusted partner fueling that growth.”

3. Be Patient With New Relationships

Strong client relations take time, Mr. Murdock says to try to resist indulging in disingenuous schmoozing. “This can be a huge turn-off to new clients,” he said. “Take time to get to know your new clients authentically. Of course, you want to get to know them. Show that in an honest way and share a little about yourself as well.”

Your work for your clients is paramount in building a relationship. Mr. Murdock knows this seems obvious, but at the end of the day, no amount of personal connection or schmoozing can substitute for high-quality work that will satisfy your clients. He says to think of it like an “excellence begets excellence” motto – if you give excellent service 100 percent of the time, the world will see your business as excellent 100 percent of the time. In other words, your work will speak for itself when attracting new clients and presenting your brand and culture to the industry.

4. Get To Know Their Industry And Organization

“Keep up with the ins and outs of each client’s company and industry,” said Mr. Murdock. “Keep up with the latest tools and news as well as the history of both. Of course, you do not need to be an expert. You should be able to speak the same language as the client. Knowing their industry will help you understand what keeps them up at night.”

Getting to know your client’s organization and industry will make you look better as a knowledgeable partner, according to Mr. Murdock. With this insight, you will be able to cater your interaction and offerings accordingly. You will have the opportunity to prepare for their needs based on the latest news in their industry.

5. Always Respond Promptly

Sometimes, Mr. Murdock explains that a simple acknowledgment is all that is needed to show how important a client is to you. “When you receive an email from your client, simply acknowledge that you received it as quickly as possible, even if you do not have the answer right away,” he said. “Tell them you are on it and include a timeframe of when you expect to have the requested information back to them. It will show them their importance to you and your relationship with them.”

Related: Retaining Your Employees During the Great Resignation

This may seem like obvious advice, but some managers may worry about having the correct answer and as a result, will put off acknowledging the email until they have a perfect response. “Most of the time, your client simply wants to know that you received their message, and they do not expect you to have a well-thought-out response the moment they sent it,” Mr. Murdock said.

6. Go Beyond Email Communications

Despite its prevalence in the business world today, email communication can often be misconstrued. This is especially true in times of stress and if sarcasm is ever used, the tone could easily be misunderstood, according to Mr. Murdock. “The way two people communicate through email can also be confusing and dangerous for relations when the senders and recipients do not know each other well,” he said. “Email is still efficient and a staple in the workplace. Mixing up your communication format will shed light on who you are, helps you get to know your client better, and leaves little room for confusion. Consider an occasional phone call, video chat, or an in-person meeting to put a face or voice to a name.”

Related: Hiring Top Talent in Unprecedented Times

More than 76 percent of all consumers prefer the traditional medium of phone calls to reach customer support. This is an opportunity to stand out from the competition and be available to assist on multiple platforms.

7. Recap And Summarize Next Steps

No matter how quick or trivial a client meeting seems, Mr. Murdock says to always make a point to recap the conversation and include the next steps in your partnership. “You may believe you will remember every detail – which may be true for you – but that may not be the case for your client,” he said. A recent survey found that 94 percent of all consumers are more likely to be loyal to a brand when it commits to full transparency.

“Acknowledging everything that was said in a meeting will help all parties remember and will give you both the opportunity to clear up anything that could have been misconstrued in the meeting,” Mr. Murdock said. “Something might sound good in a casual conversation, but your client may have a change of heart once they see it in writing.”

Nashville, TN-based IQTalent Partners is a talent acquisition and executive search firm offering consulting, candidate sourcing, candidate research and full cycle recruiting. It uses an on-demand business model in which the firm augments the client’s in-house talent acquisition team in a partnership without commissions or long-term contracts. Founded in 2009, IQTalent Partners’ mission is “to find a better, more cost-effective, and efficient way for organizations and candidates to find a match.” The firm has partnered with more than 300 corporations from Fortune 500s to start-ups.

Related: What to Ask Yourself When Making a Diversity Hire

Contributed by Scott A. Scanlon, Editor-in-Chief; Dale M. Zupsansky, Managing Editor; and Stephen Sawicki, Managing Editor – Hunt Scanlon Media

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