Want to have the best relationships with your clients? As your grow your virtual assistant business, it’s important to build solid business relationships with your clients. Then these clients will not only keep coming back, but also refer others to you.
Here are ten fun tips to help you establish a great working relationship:
#1 - Come Again? It’s critical to establish right from the beginning how you will handle the communications with your clients. If e-mailing, what is the standard turnaround time that you respond back to emails. If phoning, what are your hours? Once a client knows when they will hear from you, then they can plan their day and work accordingly.
#2 - No Surprises - Nothing is worse for a client than to discover four hours before you leave that you are heading out on a week-long vacation. That’s stretching it a bit and you probably wouldn’t do that, but think about other ways you might be surprising your client and not giving them the advance notice they need. Keep in mind that they are probably under pressure too to get their work done. Always give as much advance notice as you can when things will disrupt the business flow.
#3 - Where’d She Go? For building good client relationships, try not to disappear off the radar screen. Check in with your clients often. When a client writes and they don’t hear back from you for days (or weeks), they fear the worst. Even if you are working on a large project and the deadline is weeks away, e-mail them and let them know “All is going well.” That builds confidence and security.
#4 - OOPS, Where Did That Come From? We’ve all been there. You get the email from the client saying they found a typo or typos. Ouch. We can’t be perfect, but try and be as close as you can. Proof and reproof your work. Also, if possible wait until the material is fresh and reread it again. Determine the time when you are at your best, and use that time to do your proofing.
#5 - Super Size It Please - Always give your clients more than they ask for. You will be rewarded with not only more work, but lots of word of mouth referrals too. And there are so many ways to do it. For example, 1) Set up an Autoresponder for them so they can sell more products; 2) Set up Google Alerts under their topic or target audience so you can find websites or blogs that will help them spread their message; 3) Help them produce a newsletter or blog; 4) Send them more clients or referrals; 5) Ask them directly what you can do to better the relationship; and 6) Most importantly, listen to what they say. It’s so easy to get busy and listen with half an ear, or try and talk too much about your business. Being a good listener is a valuable asset.
#6 - Short and Sweet – Make sure that all e-mail correspondence is typed accurately and is short and to the point. With everyone having busy schedules, this helps your clients save valuable time. One thing you’ll discover is if you write too long of an e-mail often your main points will be missed. This isn’t to say that you shouldn’t strive to get the answers you need, but keep in mind that their time is valuable and to use it wisely.
#7 - You Need it WHEN? - Determine exactly when work is to be completed or when the order is to go out. This will save a tremendous amount of problems down the road if everyone is in agreement. It’s also good to have a written contract. Be specific. Once everyone knows what is expected, things run so much more smoothly.
#8 - My Dog Ate It - One thing you want to do is always try and make your deadlines and avoid excuses. We all know that things come up and that’s okay if it happens occasionally. However, if you make it a habit of needing additional time or not finishing projects, that client will fear sending you more work. Not a good thing.
#9 - Saved by the Bell - Make it a point to back-up your work on a regular basis. And test those backups. Can you imagine even losing a week’s worth of work? Your clients are counting on you to protect their work so you want to make sure it is.
#10 - Howdy Partner – Remember that you are establishing a partnership relationship with your clients. You want to help their business grow because as you do, your business grows too. Let them know you value them as a client and are glad that they have entrusted you with their work. In other words, you appreciate them. Also, let them know that you appreciate referrals so that they can help in your success. It can be a two-way street with this partnership.
And finally, enjoy. Start a friendship with your clients and let them know that you care about them. Most of my clients today are good friends. This isn’t to say that I’m not professional and don’t conduct myself professionally, as I do. However, I let them know that I’m also interested in them personally and how they are doing. I take time to know their birthdays, their kid’s names, etc. Think how you feel when something lets you know they care about you.
Hope you enjoyed these ‘fun” tips. As our Industry continues to thrive, it’s important to earn the respect and trust of our clients and also fellow Virtual Assistants. When you set up your business with the goal of doing a fabulous job, you’ll end up with fabulous clients, and fabulous friends. It’s a win/win for all.
Diana Ennen is the President of Virtual Word Publishing, www.virtualwordpublishing.com and the author of numerous books on starting a virtual assistant business including Virtual Assistant the Series: Become a Highly Successful Sought After VA and accompanying Workbook and also Corel WordPerfect’s Office Ready Virtual Assistant Solution pack. E-mail her at firstname.lastname@example.org to receive your free Business Informational Package. Article is free to be reprinted as long as bio remains intact