Robin Sharma, a well-respected leadership expert, once said: “The business of business is relationships.” As much as we sometimes get lost in profit margins, project details, and marketing strategies, the truth is that relationships are at the very heart of what makes a business work.
While coworker relationships—within your own office—are certainly important, so too is the relationship that your staff has with your clients. These relationships can have a major impact on everything from staff morale, to the quality of their work, to your company’s reputation.
How can you help your staff form mutually beneficial relationships with your clients? Here are a few ideas.
Teach them to communicate.
Communication is key in any relationship, and when it comes to relationships with clients, it’s absolutely vital. Strong lines of communication will benefit the relationship between your staff and your clients as they are able to discuss problems, share honest feedback, and stay on the same page about everything. Your staff should be able to communicate their questions and concerns in a professional, articulate way, and they should be able to listen carefully and thoughtfully to client responses. If your staff struggles with effective communication, consider holding a training session or seminar on the subject. (Yes, it’s that important.)
Often, your employees and your clients will clash in more ways than one. There could be times when their differences make it extremely difficult for them to work together. Encouraging your employees to be open-minded to other ideas, other methods, and other preferences can help things move more smoothly. You can do this by emphasizing teamwork on a daily basis within the office and by encouraging “out of the box” thinking.
Your employees need to know how to be realistic with your clients if they are going to maintain a positive relationship with them. Making promises they can’t keep is a surefire way to jeopardize the relationship. If anything, your employees should underpromise and overdeliver; exceed the client’s expectations and they’re bound to be more happy with the work (and with your staff).
Don’t complain about clients.
Your employees look to you as an example, and trust us—they hear all those complaints you make about your clients. Make a sincere effort to cut out these complaints and model the attitude you want your employees to have. It will bring a more positive vibe to your office and will help foster stronger client relationships.
Invest in professional training.
We briefly mentioned this when we talked about communication, but professional training can be invaluable when it comes to your staff’s ability to interact with your clients. You could try hiring a customer service expert to hold a training during lunch, or you could sign everyone up for an online seminar on a relevant topic. Making this investment will show your employees how much this means to you, and will give them valuable tools to use as they hone their relationship-building skills.
Client relationships are hardly ever simple, but they’re crucial to business success. Help your staff form better relationships with clients, and you’re sure to see positive results.
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