In the business world, it is vitally important to always be on your “best behavior”, especially when it comes to dealing with your clients. If you do something that offends a client, you run the risk of possibly losing the person’s business. Professional behavior cultivates long-term business growth. Professional interaction with clients from everyone in the company—from the CEO down to the office administrative staff to the janitorial staff—can make or break your business. (Source: Small Business Chronicle)
# 1 – Maintain a Professional Appearance
If you want your client to take you seriously and have confidence in your abilities as a professional, then you need to dress the part. Kenneth Andrews shares some good tips on keeping a professional appearance in the workplace in order to maintain good client relationships. Common sense items on the list that you need to daily check off are—dress like a professional, maintain clean personal hygiene, and take care for your appearance.
# 2 – Offer a Pleasant Greeting
Don’t meet the client or answer the phone by saying, “Hey, what’s up?” Of course, there are exceptions to this rule if you are on closer, friend-like terms with this person. For the sake of this article though, we’re dealing with the more professional aspect of this issue. Show respect in how you approach this client. Have a pleasant tone in how you say hello. Offer a handshake. Be sure to smile. Maintain eye contact and open the conversation with polite small talk. Ask about the client’s day and genuinely interact. No one likes a disingenuous person. Racheal Ambrose shares some great tips on how to greet clients.
# 3 – Focus Attention on the Client
As a continuation from the previous step, this one calls for genuine interaction with and concentrated focus on the client. Now, we’re not talking “fatal attraction” type of focus. Rather, just be yourself with an extra dose of attentive focus. You want your client to feel as if he or she is the only person that matters in the moment. When meeting with a client, it is not the time to check your emails or twitter feed. Silence your cell phone ringer. Don’t even look at your phone. However, if you have an urgent matter or family issue that you’ll need to take a call for, explain this to your client at the beginning of the meeting or call. In an interview, newscaster, Diane Sawyer was asked about her secret to success. She stated, “I think the one lesson I’ve learned is there is no substitute for paying attention.” (Source: About.com)
# 4 – Be Prepared for the Meeting
My brother used to say, that nothing is more important than preparing and planning for everything in life. Of course, the unexpected may sometimes occur. However, when it comes to keeping your clients happy, one sure way to do that is by being prepared. If you are attending an initial prospective client meeting, do your research on the client and come prepared with a detailed proposal of how your company can assist this person. If you are attending a status meeting with your client, come prepared with an agenda and detailed status report on the progress of the project. Marketing Consultant, Mark Sweeny shares some great tips on preparing for a client meeting.
# 5 – Be Concise in Your Follow Up
The 5 step is just as important as all of the preceding steps—it may even be one of the most important ones. Being diligent in your follow up with a client will cement a solid professional relationship with this person. Your client will feel secure in knowing that you are getting the job done and have his or her best professional interests at heart. Text messages, phone calls and emails are great. However, sometimes receiving a hand written note is nice. Network solutions offers some effective tips on client follow-up.
Properly addressing clients takes work, but there is a simple strategy to follow. If you utilize the five steps in this article, you will be on your way toward maintaining a professional relationship with your clients and establishing a solid business portfolio.