Make new friends but keep the old. One is silver, the other is gold. This adage from my Girl Scout years has proven to be valuable advice in both my personal life and career as a corporate event producer. Here at Castle, we are lucky to have customers that we’ve developed long standing relationships with that are an ongoing source of pride. But long-term clients expect more, so it is important to keep the bar high and still find ways to exceed expectations. Here are seven strategies to help keep your client relationships fresh.
- Treat Old Like New. Bring the same enthusiasm, effort and excitement (to every call and meeting) that you did when you were pitching the business.
- Give a Little More. Keeping a relationship fresh is entirely about giving: attention, service, respect, trust, ideas and understanding. You have spent a lot of time getting this relationship off the ground—don’t lose your momentum. Put in extra effort and give a little more.
- Be an Agent for Change. Don’t be complacent. “This is the way we have always done it” just isn’t good enough. Always make the effort to think outside the box and consider new ways of doing things. You may also want to rotate team members periodically for the growth of your client relationship and your staff. New faces will bring fresh thinking into the mix.
- Alter Your Environment. A change in scenery can be very powerful. Our Boston-based event professionals work all over the world so we try to get creative in our approach to client meetings. Meet at an off-site venue, video conference, share your screen for a cyber whiteboarding session, send a meal to your client and host a (virtual) working lunch, etc.
- Let Go of Assumptions. Even with clients you’ve known for years, don’t assume they are aware of all of your offerings—or that you understand all their needs. Remember to actively market to existing clients. Let your partners know what you are up to and periodically block out time to brainstorm, engage and do business together.
- Don’t Settle. Why have a good relationship when you can have a great one? Get to the root of why the partnership works and find additional ways to add value and grow your relationship on a different level. Outside of your project work, consider asking them to collaborate on writing a blog post or an article for an industry publication, speak at a conference or submit them for an award.
- Be Authentic. Treat your clients like the valued partners they are and add your personal touch—if they like you, they’ll keep coming back.
Long-term partnerships go beyond the project work and are mutually rewarding—the best kind of relationship. So, if you haven’t already hopped on the client service bandwagon, it’s time to get on board.