The F Word in Client Relationships

Tom Cates, President of Brookeside, captivating story teller, and client relationship guru facilitated ReSource Pro’s most recent IAC meeting. Tom’s insights were focused on one goal: upgrading client relationships from “fine” to trusted advisor. According to Tom you don’t want your client relationships to be described with this four letter word! Fine relationships are basic, transactional and not relationships built on loyalty or trust. Stop using the F word in client relationships.

Communicate Value

You go out of your way to create value for your clients. You work to provide a product or program that is beyond what they expect. If you create value for your clients you must also communicate that value effectively. If your clients aren’t aware of the value you are creating for them, you might as well not create it in the first place!

4 Types of Customers

It is important to remember that relationships do not exist between groups. Relationships are between people. Your clients have a relationship with the face of your organization. Their contact is the representative of your organization in the relationship.

All of your client relationships can fit into one of four categories:

  • Antagonistic – Antagonistic clients are not your fans! They are angry and they are actively looking for other options. Clients can fall in this bucket after one particularly bad experience or after a couple experiences bad enough to make them feel unimportant.
  • Transactional – Everything is fine. These clients are indifferent to you. Your relationship is purely transactional, they buy your product and you provide the service. Everything is fine. Fine relationships are not loyal relationships, these clients will take something else if and when something more intriguing comes along.
  • Predisposed – Predisposed clients are your fans, things are good but they aren’t completely sold on you. They are open to speaking to a competitor. They will switch if the deal is attractive enough.
  • Trusted Advisor – Trusted advisor clients see you as a partner, not a vendor. They go to you with their problems and trust you to give sound advice. These are client relationships built on loyalty.

Wouldn’t it be nice to know who is who? Who is ready for cross selling and who is at risk of leaving? Your segmentation strategy, and the way you track and report on your segments will start painting a picture of who is who within your organization. Have your team identify which category their clients fall into. Remind them that people tend to overestimate “fine” relationships and underestimate “great” relationships. Have deeper conversations with your team, drill deep to get to the truth about the status of your relationships.

Translating Trusted Relationships into Value

According to Brookeside research you can find growth in 77% of your client base! All you need to do is understand the numbers and then work to influence them. Know your client relationships. Which category do they fall into? How can you improve their position? Take the time to ask the questions and find answers.

ReSource Pro will host two Innovation Advisory Council events this year, click here for more information.