This one may seem like a no-brainer, but you’d be surprised how often people don’t check their e-mails regularly and lose clients over a lack of response. People like to feel valued, so make them a priority. Even if you do not have a response for them right away, shoot them a text or e-mail back letting them know that you see their questions/concerns and will get back to them as soon as you know more, or you’ll keep them updated as the details unfold. When people feel like they’re a priority in your life they’re more likely to give you more time to come back with the full answer when they know that they are not being ignored. When you show respect for their time, they’ll show you respect right back.
Challenge: Set the standard, commit to always responding to people’s emails within 24 hours and see how much of a difference this will make in their patience and attitude towards you and your business. If you want to take it one step further, turn on your read receipts and watch it keep you accountable that when you read their text message, you should respond right away, because they’ll know that you’ve seen it.
2: Be professional, but personal
Now one of the worst things to do, especially when interacting with or looking for new clients, is to send them a message that looks like you just simply copy – pasted it and sent it out to everyone. People like to feel valued, so take the time to send them a personal message. You don't have to spill your personal life to them, but you also don't have to come across like you don’t have feelings. Find the happy medium, and read the message out loud to see how it comes across. After sending the initial message, it never hurts to observe how they respond to you. If they come back with a very professional message continue with that, but if they add some smiley faces, exclamation marks, etc. it doesn’t hurt to throw some in as well, so that you can become more of a real person to them. In the beginning it never hurts to lean more to the professional side, you can always tone it down a bit later on as the relationship grows.
Challenge: Find a friend/colleague that can be honest with you and get their opinion on what you’re intending to send your client – at least the first few times. What could be normal to you, could come across pushy or annoying to others. A second opinion never hurts!
Now that all of our lives are constantly exposed online, we have all have done some social media stalking at some point in time. "Stalking" or "creeping" might not be the best definition, but it doesn’t hurt to get to know your clients on a more personal level, especially if you plan on working with them for any long period of time. Find a way to get to know their likes, dislikes, if they have a family, if they like sports or music. Take the time to check them out on professional networks like LinkedIn, social platforms like Twitter, and even Google. People like to feel that you actually care and are taking an interest in them, they’ll be more likely to want to use your services in the future if they feel like they’ve built a relationship with you, so find a way to casually get to know them, ask about their week, and see where it goes from there.
Challenge: When adding a new contact in your phone, take some time as you get to know this person to write down a few things that you learn about them in the notes section of their contact information. Make a point to comment on last night’s hockey game, or ask about a recent concert they’ve been talking about. If they have kids, people love bragging about their kids, so ask about them and get interested. It may seem forced to you at first, but as your relationship grows you’ll become genuinely interested in how your client’s daughter’s cheer completion went and if she beat out last year’s nationals winners.
4: Make time for face time.
As much as we all use our screen these days to do just about anything in our lives, it’s always good to make time for actual face to face time. Everyone’s schedules are so overloaded these days, but making time to meet over coffee, lunch or even drinks (depending on the type of meeting it is) can make all the difference. People appreciate being able to put a face to a name, and making an effort to do so can greatly increase your chance of obtaining and maintaining clients throughout your career. If you are working with clients that do not live close to you, set up a time to Facetime or Skype them. As I’ve mentioned throughout this post, people appreciate being valued and the fact that you’re willing to set aside undivided time for someone will mean a lot to them, and boost their confidence in you.
I hope this has started your mind rolling and thinking about different ways you can create a more personal relationship with your current and future clients. With how much we all use electronic devices, there are many ways that we can easily use them to communicate more effectively. This is just the tip of the iceberg to get you thinking, please feel free to post your comments and any more ideas you use to try and keep a personal relationship with your clients.