Clients are the lifeblood of any business. There are many factors to take into consideration when it comes to building trust and cultivating long-lasting business relationships. Excelling at client-focussed practices requires an often-overlooked set of skills. This guide lists some useful suggestions that can help business owners fine-tune their customer service skills.

Retaining your clients

Attracting large numbers of new customers is not enough in isolation to guarantee the success of a company. It is also vital to ensure that customers or clients continues to return for your product or service and refer your company to others in their circle. But how exactly do you ensure a steady level of return business?

The key is to combine the delivery of exceptional value with impeccable customer service, going the extra mile and making an effort to exceed your customers' expectations. The formula is simple: if clients are impressed with both your products and the quality of the service offered, they will come back.

Consistency is another keyword here. A 2019 survey by KPMG found that 74 per cent of clients classify the quality of a product as very or extremely important in retaining or acquiring brand loyalty. A further 65 per cent outlined that the consistency of a product played a vital role, a mere 1 per cent less than those who outlined value for money as a key factor. Finally, 56 per cent of those surveyed highlighted customer serviced as a vital pillar of brand loyalty. Good customer service has three characteristics: it is personalised, it is flexible, and it delivers quick and effective solutions. The last point is particularly important, as clients must feel that you are genuinely interested in finding solutions, rather than just selling a product or a service.

Showing empathy and putting yourself in your clients' shoes will surely help your company provide the kind of customer service that is needed to retain clients. However, there is no better way of finding out what clients need than asking them directly. Listen carefully to any feedback and, more importantly, be ready to respond and act upon it.

Putting your clients at ease

The first encounter with a client is decisive for the future of any business relationship. For this reason, it is essential that clients feel at ease from the very first moment, as this will help them feel comfortable and more willing to build a relationship based on trust.

There are two elements that are essential here: appearance and attitude. First impressions count, it is paramount to pay close attention to what your clothes say about you when meeting a client for the first time. Your attire must be professional but be careful not to overdo it, as this could intimidate your client. Body language also plays a role in making your clients feel comfortable. Avoid crossing your arms or legs or fidgeting. Your tone of voice should be friendly but genuine and you should maintain good eye contact.

Showing appreciation for your clients

Showing that you value your clients is key to a long-lasting business relationship, as this will show that you care about them individually and not merely just another number. Thank your customers for their support and business by sending them handwritten notes or making follow-up calls. Loyalty schemes and client discounts are good ideas too.

Corporate gifts should not be seen as wasted money, but instead as an investment that is very likely to produce returns. It is also important to not forget customer satisfaction surveys, as these tell your clients that their opinions and suggestions are valued.

Ultimately, looking after your clients is all about empathy, communication, and professionalism. Remember that a little effort can go a long way and that a satisfied customer is one of the most effective ways of promoting your business.