3 March 2016
3 min read
Building and maintaining customer loyalty is key to . As you grow, you’ll need to know that your employees can perform in front of clients and fully represent your business.
Handing client relationships over to your team, or just sending them to represent you can feel terrifying and risky but if you don’t crack it, you’ll become the barrier to your own company’s growth.
Preparation is key to managing this risk. Don’t wait until you have no choice but to send someone to that big pitch or meeting. Start thinking now about how to build the skills you need in your team.
Start in the right place
There is a reason that bosses know they should recruit for attitude as much as for aptitude. If they want to have a team that can handle clients, they need to start by recruiting the right person.
Make sure you have their back – overly harsh criticism or undermining them in front of a client can set your cause back months
Always ask people about their experience of managing client/customer relationships and how they’ve gone the extra mile in previous roles. The right questions should give you a really good indication as to whether that prospective employee is a good fit with your company approach.
Building a brand is more than a pretty logo
In the early days of your business it’s tempting to think that you are what differentiates your company from your competitors; this may be comforting, but it can cause issues as the business grows.
You should be able to articulate what your brand ethos is when it comes to working with clients: how and when do you challenge ideas? How formal or informal are your relationships? What kind of language do you use?
If you are asking your employees to do this, it’s only fair that you start by being clear about what you want to see.
Model and have their back
When you know what great client-facing performance looks like, model it. Take employees with you to client meetings so they can see what you do, and then gradually let them do more and more of it.
Make it easy for your employees to see or find out about the history of a client relationship, who the key players are and what has worked well in the past
Make sure you have their back – overly harsh criticism or undermining them in front of a client can set your cause back months. Give calm measured feedback and encouragement after each meeting.
Train your team to use action learning
Introducing some structured action learning for the team is a great way to provide space for them to explore and discuss client relationships and develop new ideas and approaches. Peer-to-peer support of this type builds accountability and confidence.
There are great, simple techniques freely available on Google if you aren’t familiar with the concept.
Provide the right information
Performing well in front of clients takes practice, but knowledge is also important. Make it easy for your employees to see or find out about the history of a client relationship, who the key players are and what has worked well in the past.
The final stage in building a team to deliver perfect client relationships is to take a step back
You should also make sure each employee has a good understanding of what other people/teams in your organisation do so that they can represent this with confidence.
The final stage in building a team that can deliver perfect client relationships is to take a step back.
It’s really easy to convince yourself that you are indispensable and that only you can manage client relationships. Even if that were true it would set an impossible precedent and stifle growth.
Remind yourself to focus on the outcome (great client relationships) rather than obsessing about how this is achieved and make use of the time you’ve freed-up to do something powerful and important to grow the business.