Saturday is Sweetest Day, a holiday for lovers that is said to have originated in Cleveland in 1922. This year it falls just three days after mine and my boyfriend’s five year anniversary. So, being the overly analytical, somewhat hopeless-romantic girlfriend that I am, I spent the other night reliving our relationship in my mind … the highs, the lows and everything in between.
In doing so, I came up with a few reasons why I think our relationship has survived thus far — a list that can actually apply to any relationship, including relationships with clients.
Therefore, in honor of the holiday, here are a few of the lessons my “sweetheart” taught me and how they can help you build loyalty with your clients.
Be Open and Honest.
In a romantic relationship, honesty is key. If you don’t trust your partner to tell you the truth, your relationship is going to go nowhere fast. The same applies for client relationships. Your clients should trust you and you should trust your clients.
For this to happen, you must be genuine. Make sure both parties set realistic expectations. Tell your clients when something isn’t working out, and let them know when things are going really well. If you communicate openly and honestly to them, they will be more likely to be open and honest with you.
Listen to Their Problems and Respond When Appropriate.
I’ll admit I like to vent my problems, especially when I’ve been having a bad day. When this happens, the best thing my boyfriend can do is listen and, when appropriate, react.
If a client is unhappy about something, do the same. Listen to what is bothering them (even if it’s not something you caused or have control over). Then, if you can, devise a solution to fix it. Sometimes, just being there to listen is enough to calm frustrations.
Do What You Say You’ll Do. Be Where You Say You’ll Be.
Keep your promises and your word. There’s nothing worse than thinking someone is going to do something or be somewhere, only to be disappointed. Therefore, whether it’s a date, a business meeting, cleaning the house or submitting a proposal, follow through. Make it so people can count on you and you’ll be much more successful.
And, if you have to cancel or won’t be able to get something completed, at least have the decency to warn the other person in a timely manner.
Make Time, Even if You Have None
If there’s anything I’ve learned from dating an accountant, it’s that they are the busiest people in the world from January 1 until April 15 — the dreaded tax season. However, even with long hours at work, my boyfriend makes it a point to spend time with me.
Consider this in terms of your clients. How many times have they called you at the last minute with a project or an emergency? What was your response? I hope you made time, no matter how busy you were. For a relationship to work, you have to be there when the other person needs you.
Admit When You’re Wrong and Apologize.
Face it. Eventually one person in the relationship is going to make a mistake, no matter how hard you both try not to. If it’s you, own up to it. Admit you were wrong, apologize and make it up to the person. Your client, just like a significant other, will appreciate that you took responsibility for your actions.
Go Out of Your Way to Make Them Happy.
Show you care in your everyday actions. It’s the little things my boyfriend does that I like the most. For example: buying me my favorite beer (Miller Light), letting me borrow his sweatshirt when I’m cold or sitting through a chick flick because I just “couldn’t wait to see it.”
Keep the little things in mind with your clients as well. Email them interesting articles, wish them a happy birthday, take them out to lunch or introduce them to like-minded people. Go above and beyond their expectations for customer service and they’re bound to be clients for life.
So, what are your tips for maintaining strong, loyal relationships? Share with me what’s worked for you and what hasn’t.
Tracy DiMarino is an associate consultant at PR 20/20, a Cleveland-based inbound marketing agency and PR firm. Follow Tracy on Twitter @TracyDiMarino.
Photo Credit: Bob.Fornal