Client Relationships: There’s No Room for “Us” vs. “Them” – Only “We” in Small Business
Building strong relationships with clients stands at the center of the the small business universe.
An “us” vs. “them” mentality when working with clients isn’t only unproductive, it can be debilitating. What joy and satisfaction is there in working with people you view as your opponents? Clients aren’t the enemy. Sure, occasionally you’ll meet one who puts your patience to the test, but if you’ve been careful about choosing who you work with, overall you’ll find clients are good people with good intentions. And to state the obvious, your business needs them!
From the very start of my freelance career nearly 5 years ago, I quickly discovered the best way to establish trust and loyalty when working with clients is to interact with them as partners.
When you approach relationships with clients as partnerships, your clients feel comfortable to approach them that way, too. I believe the way to “we” starts with us and how we interact with clients.
Ways to demonstrate a “We” mindset when building and maintaining client relationships:
- Communicate often.
- Communicate clearly.
- Take an interest in them as people, not just income sources.
- Make an effort to understand their expectations and goals.
- Go the extra mile to share articles and resources you think might benefit their businesses.
- Interact with them on social media.
- Apologize if you make a mistake.
- When clients make mistakes, gently present the facts rather than point fingers.
- Address misunderstandings quickly and politely.
- Be honest.
- Be attentive.
- Be responsive.
- Let them in…Be open to sharing about yourself beyond your business.
- Acknowledge and celebrate their successes.
The benefits a “We” mindset brings to your small business:
- Strengthens clients’ loyalty to you.
- Results in mutual respect/less stress.
- More relaxed working environment.
- Leads to repeat business.
- Creates camaraderie – and often friendships.
- Can lead to higher quality referrals.
- Makes work seem less like work.
While a We mindset takes two, you can move your client relationships in that direction by how you choose to interact with and treat your clients. It requires some extra effort to approach business that way, but I can’t imagine doing it any other way. Can you?
By Dawn Mentzer
Another Insatiable Solopreneur™ post