Good client service is not complicated; it’s just not always easy to maintain. However the benefits we reap are well worth the effort.
If I’ve learned one thing in my years interfacing with clients, it’s that providing good client service is not as complicated as people make it out to be. It really is as simple as doing what you say you will do, no matter how small. Now, just because it’s simple doesn’t mean it’s easy – it can take a long time to build trust with a client, and that trust can be lost very quickly.
Through my experience, I’ve learned a few effective strategies for building strong client relationships.
- The best way to take care of our clients is to take care of our employees. Happy, motivated, and fulfilled employees provide the best client service. This means that a successful company culture is essential. If we take good care of our employees, my experience has shown me that they, in turn, will take good care of our clients.
- Always do what you say you will do. Following through with tasks, no matter how small or insignificant they may seem, is a great way to build up that all-important trust with a client. Creating strong, trusting, lasting client relationships rests on your ability to follow through – don’t let the little things fall off your radar!
- Be honest, even when it’s not good news. To make the best decisions for their project, the client needs to know the truth about whatever is going on. The quickest way to destroy client trust is to withhold information – or worse, mislead the client.
- Be responsive. If a client calls or emails, always respond as quickly as is feasible. I have seen some extremely slow response times to client requests, and this definitely does not lead to a mutually beneficial client relationship. You don’t have to respond in minutes but responding within a day is a reasonable goal.
- Make all project decisions, including staffing, with project success at top of mind. If we staff a project or team up on a project without doing what makes sense, it will not end well for anyone involved. Putting the project first greatly increases our chance of success.
- Be good to all people in life, not just clients. We are all just human beings doing the best we can. Try to treat everyone the way you’d treat your friends and family, and by default, that includes clients. Make this simple switch and watch your relationships bloom across all sectors of your life.
Good client service provides the base for everything we do in the AEC industry. While it’s not complicated, it is not always easy to maintain. However, it can certainly be done, and the benefits we reap are well worth the effort. What it really comes down to is integrity: doing what you say you’ll do and treating others the way you’d want to be treated in the same situation. At the end of the day, we should strive to provide excellent client service because it’s the right thing to do.
Jamie Bumgarner is a business unit leader for Mead & Hunt’s transportation sector. With more than 21 years of experience interfacing with clients, Jamie is passionate about building strong, mutually beneficial professional relationships. Contact him at firstname.lastname@example.org.