We all know it costs us a lot more to develop a new client than it does to maintain and grow with a current client.  They already know the benefit of working with us. Adding services or products that will help them be more productive or efficient is a great way to grow your business.

So what are the best ways to build a good rapport with our clientele; one that will yield us not only continued business, but referrals?  I think there are three key elements to creating long term relationships, they are:

  • Exceptional quality products/services
  • Stellar customer service
  • A reliable and ethical reputation

I see it all the time on forums, people asking how to do something that a client has requested.  Don’t promise something you can’t deliver.  This includes deadlines.  Just because the client wants it by tomorrow, doesn’t mean that’s reasonable.  If you know you won’t be able to complete it in the requested period of time, let the client know.  Your relationship will be much stronger if you will be up front and honest, even to the point of referring them to someone else to better serve their needs.

Do something extra as often as possible.  Maybe it’s offering them an added feature to the project, or suggestions to improve or make the project more effective; anything that will exceed their expectations.  I try to do this at least four times a year with each client, if not more.

Find out how the client prefers to communicate.  Not everyone prefers Email, some like to speak by phone.  Some respond to voicemail, others don’t.  Make sure you’re listening to the client’s needs and reacting in a way that makes it easy for them to work with you.

Always be looking to improve your service.  It’s easy to make a client feel important by asking them to critique your work and level of service.  Ask them how you might improve your service and then really listen.  Sometimes they may not feel there is need for improvement, which may lead to a nice testimonial or referral.  Never miss an opportunity to connect and make the client feel like a partner and a part of the process.

And finally, as you get more involved and familiar with their business, be sure you are referring business to them.  Referrals should never be a one-way street.  It should be something you both do regularly.

Jeannine Grich, owner of Accurate Business Services, a VA practice, is an author, writer, speaker and VA Business Coach, specializing in providing professional business coaching to established and start-up virtual assistants (VA’s).  Visit:  http://www.VAbizcoach.com; or contact her at: http://vabizcoach.com/contact-us/.