General business tips

News: January 2014

General business tips

Ways to improve your customer relationships

If we have any work, we have customers! Maintaining and growing these relationships makes the time spent on a project more enjoyable and effective and also improves the chance of referrals and future business. The following are things you can do to improve important business relationships, and some suggestions on how to get started.

Have a clear contract with your client

This is the number one guideline for a successful customer relationship. Without a clear contract neither you nor your client can be clear on roles and responsibilities, deadlines and deliverables, methodologies and measures. Beyond the importance of the contract to the project itself, a clear contract is a great aid to a good working relationship.

Get to know your customers better

All relationships are better when the individuals take time to get to know one another. Learn about your client’s interests. You will likely spend many hours with the client during the project / sale.

Ask more questions and listen more

When we ask questions we understand situations better. Take the time to ask your customer how they feel, and try to understand their observations. The skill of questioning is one of the most important we can develop to improve our ability to sell our products/services.

Be willing to say “No”

In many cases, clients ask us to do things beyond our capabilities or interests. When these new requests are outside the contract agreement, be willing to say no. Take time to understand both the client’s reason for asking as well as your ability to deliver. Don’t automatically say yes, just because “the Customer is always right.”

Stay focused

Staying focused on your contract and deliverables is the best thing you can do to build your client relationships. Showing focus and delivering what you say you will, when promised, builds credibility and enhances relationships with customers.

Write it the right way

Proofreading may not be terribly fun, but it’s one of the most important parts of writing marketing materials. Here are some tips for quick and effective proofreading: Wait several hours before proofreading or you might be thinking about what you just wrote, rather than watching for typos and punctuation errors.

  • Eliminate distractions.
  • Print out a copy of your work, ideally double-spaced.
  • Reading the document aloud helps to highlight punctuation errors and missing words.
  • Read backwards for spelling mistakes.
  • Check numbers and totals, refigure all calculations.
  • Rest your eyes every 10 to 15 minutes.

Now sense check your document

  • What is the message that you are trying to convey and are you getting your message across?
  • Make the changes and print a fresh copy of your document.
  • Leave your document for 15 or 20 minutes then come back to it and read it one last time.