Project Management Tips

What’s behind long-lasting client relationships?

Alexandra Mironova      |       January 24, 2022

Many businesses in different areas of services underestimate the importance of retaining existing clients. Plenty of companies are taking part in a race for gaining new leads, trying out new lead-generation techniques and spending budgets on targeted ads instead of just pushing their efforts into continuing the work with their existing clients. And that’s the biggest mistake. From a business perspective, it’s much cheaper to keep an existing client working with you than to gain a new one according to Amy Gallo, Harvard Business Review.

Here at Outcrowd we’ve always known that secret ingredient (ssh!) and paid much attention to the client-oriented approach and retention strategy which in fact is not a strategy, but a small list of tips that help our project managers and other employees who meet our clients most often to make our wheel turn in the right direction.

Let’s dive deep!

1. Think of your clients as more than just clients. Personalize!

According to SalesForce, 52% of clients expect offers to always be personalized. That’s quite a big percentage, isn’t it?

On the one hand, this seems to be related to sales and not project management, right? I’m happy to shed more light on the topic.

I always imagine communication with each client like a journey where we need to interact. This interaction is primarily, but not solely, related to the project we’re working on.

How about asking the client when his/her birthday is occasionally in one of the regular feedback meetings and taking a quick note of that? Sending a brief personal email on that date will be a huge surprise and will cause a pleasant emotion. It’s worth a try!

During that journey, always try to learn some small facts about your clients, their hobbies, their dog’s name and use that information to make your communication personalized. For example, I have a client who’s into crossfit, and we always share links to major competitions held in Europe and here in Ukraine, so that’s a common thing based on personal information I learned from the client during our collaboration. Not a big deal to get to know that info, yet a huge block in building our long-term relationships. Talking about weather and COVID-19 is becoming boring.

2. Develop your emotional intelligence, particularly empathy

Have you noticed that sales and other company processes are becoming more and more automated every year? It takes us less time to do email marketing, ping clients who we sent out the contract to, etc. We’re all trying to speed up, simplify, and optimize. Such an attitude to work causes an issue when we think of the client as a long-term partner.

Ask yourself: what kind of people do I want to surround myself and build relationships with? They are unlikely to be people with problems, negative (or even neutral) and without an inner smile. An extremely vital trait of the project manager (or any person who has influence on the client’s stay with the company) is the ability to read the client’s mood, adjust to it and be empathetic.

Automated emails are unlikely to provide the necessary level of understanding and empathy. Breathe in, breathe out, listen, ask, acknowledge, advise. Be human!

3. Flexibility and approachability

Make it possible to connect with you easily and quickly. The client should feel approachability at all levels of your organization (if they want to have a quick chat with the CEO, make it possible). Suggest different communications options, try to always reply promptly. Here at Outcrowd we stay online and respond promptly to all emails and messages within our working hours. To those emails sent when we’re offline, we do get back within 24 hours maximum.

4. Reward

It’s up to you to decide whether to write a “thank you” message, share a non-material or material bonus — just try to find the right balance as an adequate reward for your client’s loyalty.

Here are just a few tips on what these rewards could be (we do offer them to our clients on a regular basis): Black Friday and Cyber Monday certificates, special offers for complex solutions with our team (such as a full-cycle project with us), discounts for a second, third etc project with us, Outcrowd’s B-day certificate for free hours and many more!

5. Exceed customer expectations = go the extra mile!

You can always give more that the client is expecting to get. And it’s not about reward at all.

How about compiling a complex style guide (that was not in scope) after a website design project? Or animating the logo as a gift after a logo/branding project? Our clients never expect to see their logos live and this causes a wow effect when we release all the final deliverables. Another idea could be compiling a nice clickable prototype in Figma for the mobile app. Go wild, creativity has no limits.

6. Keep in touch

The date of the project deadline should not be the finish line in your relationships with the client.

If you managed to build a good rapport with the client and cross the formal border in your interaction, then you can easily follow them on social media, like each other’s posts, and maintain this social contact by commenting and reacting to what’s happening in the life that goes on after the project ends. You won’t be surprised when such a client gets back to you after a while with a new project.

Client-orientedness is coming to the fore in all segments. The market is overcrowded with competitors in different fields, so your clients might go to those who care more, show more interest even as they offer the same value proposition as yours. Humanity is a way to stand out. Rest assured, your clients will reward you with their long-term loyalty.