There are many significant aspects that are important in defining client relationships. Trust is undoubtedly one of the most meaningful and valuable parts of said relationships. Of course, trust is earned and therefore develops over time.
Honesty with clients goes a long way when building trust. Whether it be messaging development, social media platform building or press release writing – you as part of the PR/communications firm have a large impact on how the client feels about how their preliminary work is received and then also the final product. Offering to review and edit their work and providing honest, constructive, but also polite, feedback is a great way to show that you care about the success of their business.
Offer Timely Responses
Your clients are paying you for your time and that means answering emails and phone calls in a timely manner. This also builds trust and shows that you are a reliable, necessary asset to their company.
It is critical to define what your role, or “scope of work,” as well as availability, will be for your client. Will you be available on weekends? Do you always give out your cell phone number? These are all elements that must be discussed and defined early on in the relationship to create a sense of routine and a structure as to when you will be available. Another part of managing expectations is ensuring that clients understand that while it is okay to be hopefully optimistic, it is also important to be realistic. This can be in terms of media placement quantity, early on brand recognition, etc. This again lends to earning client trust because they will know that you are working hard for them and also have their best interest in mind.
Learn To Listen
Listening, in any profession, is invaluable. Much of the time clients hire PR agencies because they like to work collaboratively – discussing ideas, talking out issues, revising and reviewing company materials, etc. Being an active listener with the ability to take in what a client is saying and then thoughtfully responding is a skill that seems so simple, but goes a long way, especially in terms of a client’s specific preferences. It shows you are really listening when a client does not have to repeat things several times. It also doesn’t hurt to ask about and remember the little details that aren’t work related – think family, birthdays and the like. These bits of information show that you value your relationship and go a long way in maintaining client trust.
In any business, building and maintaining client trust is key to long-term success. Honesty, timeliness, managing expectations and listening show an eagerness and motivation to earn that trust.